Map put voters in wrong district

Published 5:16 pm Monday, June 7, 2004

By By ARTHUR McLEAN Special to the Standard
No one is quite sure how a voting district map placed 174 voters outside the County Commission District 4 voting area on Tuesday.
During Tuesday's primary, a voting district map was given to poll workers by the Escambia County Board of Registrars.
That map, detailing the voting precincts within the districts, incorrectly placed 174 voters in County Commission District 5 rather than District 4, the district involved in the county commission primary.
County officials said they had the problem corrected by that afternoon, after they received the first call about it Tuesday morning about 8:30 a.m.
Officials at the Escambia County Board of Registrars office said they receive the district and precinct maps from the County Commission, a map that they assumed to be correct.
County Commission chairman Larry White said county clerk Tony Sanks was investigating the problem and how it occurred. Sanks was unavailable for comment.
Because there is no governmental department dedicated to elections in Alabama, election duties are usually shared among local office holders including local probate and circuit judges, board of registrars, county commission and sheriff.
The precinct affected by the map error appeared to be the Rachel Patterson Elementary polling location. Agerton said there is no way to tell how many, if any voters were turned away from Rachel Patterson.
Poll workers are instructed to allow voters to cast votes under a provisional voter law, which would allow a provisional vote to be cast, even if there is a question about whether the voter is in the right precinct and district. Provisional votes are later certified to determine whether they were correct and should count towards the official vote total.
There were no provisional ballots cast at Rachel Patterson on Tuesday, according to voting officials. However, there have been no complaints filed by voters saying they had been denied the opportunity to vote, Agerton said.
Also, none of the candidates involved in the county commission race have filed an official challenge to Tuesday's results by press time.
A runoff is scheduled for Tuesday, June 29 between William Brown and James "Junior" Hall. Voting ended Tuesday with Brown holding a 49 vote lead over Hall, the incumbent, who claimed 367 votes.
But Brown did not claim enough votes to avoid a runoff in the three-way Democratic Primary. With no Republican candidates on the ballot, the run-off will decide the District 4 seat.
Hall did not return calls by the Atmore Advance seeking comment. Brown could not be reached by press time.
Voting officials said it appeared that the county commission race would be the only runoff to be held in Escambia County.
In all, 24.6 percent of the voters in Escambia turned out to cast a ballot. There were 5,212 voters who cast ballots out of 21,146 registered voters in the county.

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