Following the rules vital to proper vote

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2003

Today local voters will have one of two choices on today's tax referendum - yes or no - and for first-time voters in the area and those who have voted in Covington County before, proper procedure to cast a ballot will be essential for the polls to run smoothly.

One of the most important things to remember when going to the polls is a form of personal identification, said Covington County Probate Judge Sherrie Phillips, who is also the County Chief Elections Officer.

"The women of the area need to remember to have a purse with them," Phillips said. "The men (of the area) usually have a wallet or bifold in their pockets, but women might leave their purses in the car or at home."

Not only will there be 26 different forms of valid ID accepted for the referendum, if two poll workers recognize the voter and sign to the acknowledgement, then the vote will still count, said Phillips.

"Everyone should have a valid ID, with all of the options available," she said. "But, if not, we still have a back-up plan, even if they (voters) didn't hear about the Voter ID on the radio, didn't read it in the newspaper, or didn't hear it on the TV. Especially in small precincts and in my county, everybody knows every one else just about. So, chances are, the local poll workers would know you."

All polling places in Alabama are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Phillips said she is not a poll worker, but she will have the responsibility to oversee loose ends of the referendum.

"We have 37 different precincts in the area," she said. "I try to go around and visit most of the precincts to keep problems from occurring at the polls. Some nitch here and there is bound to happen. It could be anything as small as poll workers running out of pens. Or, if the workers run out of ballots, I jump in my vehicle and bring them however many are needed."

One problem, however, has the potential of being more serious, she added.

"A big problem could be not being able to find a voter on the list," she said. "We have (the workers) call the Probate Office or the Board of Registrar's Office. It could be we have made a mistake; it could be the person is not in the right precinct. If so, we try to correct the mistake so it doesn't happen again."

Covington County has had smooth elections in the past and problems of that nature aren't apt to happen, added Phillips.

"Versus other counties in the state, our elections have run smoothly, knock on wood," she said.

The number of absentee ballots applied for in the county to-date is 280. One county in the state has more absentee ballots than walk-ins, according to Phillips.

"Bullock County, which has a population of 10,000, has about 2,000 absentee votes in a general election," she continued.

Absentee ballots are for voters who cannot be present at the polls in the county for various reasons. The majority of absentee ballots casted in Covington County are emergencies (surgeries, etc), travel and work, said Phillips.

The turnout for the polls today is expected to be relatively high, commented Phillips.

"I expect approximately the same number of people to show for (the referendum) than in a general election," she said. "Which is about 50 percent of the voting population."