DeKalb County amendment seeks to end special elections
October 26, 2016
Southern Torch (3351 articles)
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DeKalb County amendment seeks to end special elections

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor

tyler@southerntorch.com

FORT PAYNE, Ala. — Amendment Number One on the ballot for DeKalb County on Nov. 8 seeks to end special elections for vacant positions. If the amendment passes, vacant positions will be filled by the governor. In most counties, this is standard procedure.

Before 2010, when vacancies were left due to resignations before the current term is complete, it was up to the Governor to appoint a new constable until a regular election can be held. However, due to laws passed that year that only applies to DeKalb County, a special election must be held if there is a year or more left in the term.

Last November, a special election was held for some residents of DeKalb County to fill open vacancies for the position of constable after Kneely Pack resigned due to being arrested on fraud charges. Grant Johnson, District 4 also resigned due to moving out of his elected district, leaving a second vacancy.

This was decided during the primary elections due to there being no Democratic candidate participating in the race. Billy J. Whitt emerged the winner by a large margin of a three way primary. But the drama didn’t end there.

In the General Election held last November, Whitt, who was running unopposed  suffered a last minute upset when Wendy Bobbitt staged a write in campaign, beating Whitt 51 to 49.

While turnout percentages in special elections during years without much political activity remain very low compared to normal elections years, this was abnormally low.

This means that out of a combined number of 19,832 voters in both districts, only 318 came out to vote in both the primary and 326 in November’s election. That’s a turnout percentage of only 1.6 percent.

These elections costs a large sum of money to DeKalb County taxpayers, with most affected not even living in the mentioned districts. The primary alone cost over $40,000.00 with costs rising to nearly $100,000.00 after the general election. With only 644 votes cast, this costs the county roughly $155 per vote.

When asked about these costs, DeKalb County Commission President Ricky Harcrow said, “We just can’t afford it.”

“If every situation was ideal and we had plenty of money that would be fine. That money comes straight from the General Fund,” said Harcrow.  

“It’ll be up to the people to decide if we can give the governor the authority to appoint,” added Harcrow.

Southern Torch

Southern Torch

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