Voter turnout more than 40 percent in county

Published 4:56 pm Thursday, November 6, 2014

Election officials reported voter turnout throughout Chilton County was more than 40 percent for the Nov. 4 General Election.

Election officials reported voter turnout throughout Chilton County was more than 40 percent for the Nov. 4 General Election.

Election officials reported voter turnout throughout Chilton County was more than 40 percent for the Nov. 4 General Election.

“We had a fair turnout this year,” Chilton County Probate Judge Bobby Martin said. “Out of 26,342 voters in this county, we had about 11,582 voters.”

Martin said there were no major problems at the polls, and everything including several changes implemented throughout the county for the election seemed to “run smoothly.”

One of the changes implemented this year for Alabama voters included the requirement for all voters to present a photo ID prior to voting.

The change affected not only Chilton County voters, but voters statewide after the Voter Identification Act, approved during the 2011 legislative session, went into effect in all 67 Alabama counties for the first time on June 3.

“I think a lot of people had sort of gotten used to presenting their ID during the June 3 election so there weren’t any issues with that,” Martin said. “The thing that really helps out a lot at the polls are the iPads. Those have been great.”

Martin referenced new technology Chilton County qualified for through a Help America Vote Act (HAVA) grant allowing each precinct in the county an iPad for voting.

Poll workers were able to use the iPads to look up the voter’s list for the entire county as opposed to that particular precinct.

“If someone showed up to vote at the wrong polling place, we could use the iPad to look up where that person was supposed to vote,” Martin said.

Martin said there was only one problem reported at the polls on Tuesday with one ballot getting hung in a machine.

“The ballot was counted, but somehow it didn’t drop down in the bin like it was supposed to,” Martin said. “The only other problem we seemed to have was counting the write-in candidates. We found that a lot of people would mark the write-in section, but they wouldn’t write anyone down. For instance, with one of the local uncontested races, we had 96 write-ins, and out of the 96 there were probably half who didn’t write down anyone’s name.”

Chilton County received 21 new voting machines this year, as new laws required technological upgrades in counties throughout Alabama for the election.

Anything older than 15 years old required an upgrade.

The county leaded the new voter machines from Election Systems and Software and the model of the machines was the DS 200 Digital Precinct Scan.

One change implemented at the Chilton County Courthouse this year for voters casting ballots at the courthouse was opening a separate entrance due to security.

Martin said he thought individuals adjusted well to the change and reported no issues with the separate entrance.

“I didn’t hear anyone griping about having to be checked by security or go through a separate entrance,” Martin said. “I think most people understand security now.”

Chilton County Commissioners voted in October to appropriate for two additional security guards to stand at the handicap entrance of the courthouse, which is located at the lower level entrance to the left of the front entrance.

The separate entrance was an effort to deal with the high volume of foot traffic at the courthouse.

Kendra Williams, a poll worker at the courthouse, said the turnout seemed to be “steady, but slow for a general election.”

Williams has been a poll worker at the courthouse precinct for 26 years.

2008 was the only year she did not work at the polls.

Williams said the new voting machines were “great” and said this was the second time for her to use them.

“It is less trouble, and less confusion,” Williams said.

Martin said overall, the day went great.

“I felt like the Maytag repairman: He never really had a job because the product was so dependable,” Martin said. “Everything just went so smooth.”