Turnout, write-ins highPublished 12:02am Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Voter turnout was high in Covington County yesterday, but the large number of write-in votes cast delayed the vote tallying process.
After the major networks had called the presidential election an electoral college win for President Barrack Obama, local probate officials were still waiting for returns from Opp, where poll workers were hand-counting write-ins.
Probate Judge Ben Bowden, who is responsible for elections, said the vote counting machines count all votes cast, but separate those that have write-ins. For instance, the machine records that a write-in was cast, but poll workers have to tally the votes and make sure their records match the electronic total count.
Bowden said that the law allows write-in votes to be counted only if they are for living beings. So votes for cartoon characters, or people who already have died don’t count. Elvis received at least one write-in vote here.
“The person who cast that vote, or the ones for Mrs. Grundy, might think it was funny, but from a practical sense, it’s not funny to these poll workers who’ve been on the job since 6 a.m.,” Bowden said.
Turnout was slightly lower this year than in the 2008 presidential election, when 15,790 percent of the county’s registered voters participated. This year, 15,528 of the 23,377 voters, or 66.42 percent, cast ballots.
Bowden said he was pleased with the turnout.
“The turnout showed that people had access and could get to the polls,” he said.
There were people waiting in line to vote when polls opened 7 a.m. Tuesday election officials said.
In Andalusia, poll worker Charles Jackson said he was amazed at the steady, and oftentimes, hectic line of voters.
“At 7 a.m., you wouldn’t (have believed) it – the number of people waiting to get it was something,” Jackson said. “Turnout is phenomenal. It’s been steady all day. I won’t be surprised if this is the best Covington County has ever seen.”
Just after 2 p.m. at the Opp Senior Citizen Center, 1,825 residents had cast a ballot, with several more in line.
“Probably 25 inside plus the line, so it’s going really well,” said a poll worker. “And we still have five more hours to go.”
In Florala, longtime poll worker James York said the crowd just kept coming all day long. Just before 4 p.m., there were 589 ballots in the machine and another 20 voters in line to cast their ballot. York said there are 1,200 registered voters in the city.