Amending the election

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Butler County election officials joined in a statewide recount Monday after a measure to remove segregation-era language from the Alabama Constitution was rejected by voters in the general election on Nov. 2.

The proposed constitutional amendment would delete sections that are not enforced today that require racially segregated schools.

It also allows poll taxes, a tactic used once to discourage African-Americans from voting.

Statewide, according to Secretary of State Nancy Worley’s office, the amendment failed by 1,850 votes out of 1.38 million cast – a margin of 0.13 percent. A new state law calls for a recount when a measure fails by less than one-half of a percentage point.

Butler County Probate Judge Steve Norman said everything went well with the recount on Monday.

He said it took six poll workers a total of seven hours to hand feed over 6,000 ballots through voting machines.

At the end of the day, Norman said the measure passed in Butler County with 2,994 votes in the yes category to 2,737 in the no category.

On Nov. 2, there were 3,010 yes votes and 2,750 no votes.

The mandated recount will not come out of Butler County funds, Norman said.

&uot;The pays the cost 100 percent in this case,&uot; he said.

Since Nov. 2, Alabama’s image has been crucified in the national media for failing to the pass the measure, many claiming that the state’s racist roots remain strong. When Norman was asked about the controversy surrounding the measure and the state getting a black eye, he said people should look around and think about it.

&uot;When you watch the national news and see some of the things happening in other parts of the country, there are many black eyes to pass around,&uot; he said.

&uot;I would like to note that the people of Butler County voted in favor of the amendment on the first try.&uot;

Norman said he does not expect the recount to change the fact the measure failed, but does think that when it comes up for a vote again, it will pass.

However, he cautioned that the wording must be specific.

&uot;I can see taking out the segregationist language,&uot; he said.

&uot;But when you start telling people that the state must fund public schools, you open the door for a judge to say the state has to give more money and that could hurt us. I think it will pass and they will get some of the wording out of the constitution.

Whether they will get the other language out, it will be tough.&uot;

While Butler County’s recount only took one day, the state’s larger counties could take as long as a week to complete.