By Marla Jones, Managing Editor • firstname.lastname@example.org
FORT PAYNE, Ala. — (Full video online @ SouthernTorch.com) The Fort Payne City Council held a special called meeting on Friday regarding a recently passed ordinance that limits the number of polling places for the municipal election on August 25.
Councilman Gerald “Red” Taylor set the tone for the meeting when he stated that he “was misformed” about the number of poll workers and the hardship of getting people to work the polls. He went on to say that since there are requirements for the number of workers assigned to each voting boxes, “I don’t see how reducing the number of polling places is going to reduce the number of workers.”
City Clerk Robert A. Parker stated there is to be one inspector and three clerks for each machine. 4400 voters will be assigned to the VFW and 3707 will be voting at Wills Valley Recreation Center.
“There will be two machines at each location to allow for the safety and well being of the voters,” Parker stated.
Councilman Wade Hill stated that all the information had been provided to the council on Friday, before the council meeting regarding changes. He went on to say that the council had time to review whether they wanted to vote for or against, and it was voted for unanimously.
“I’ve been getting crap all week because I’m the stumbling block and won’t let us change it back. We can’t legally change it back if we wanted to today,” said Hill.
Taylor then asked why to which Parker stated, “It’s too late, Red.”
“It’s got to be published in the paper to be an effective ordinance, within so many days, and Monday is the deadline,” Hill continued.
“This is not a forever deal. This was done for the upcoming election. We can change that back and rescind that ordinance after this election. This was done for safety reasons, in my mind, and if it was done for any other reason, I don’t know why. I think we all went into this trying to make this as safe and efficient election as possible because we were afraid that people weren’t going to vote. We are still encouraging people to vote absentee, even now,” concluded Hill.
The council discussed several safety measures that would be implemented to hold a safe municipal election. Golf carts will be available for those who need assistance, along with antibacterial soap, masks, and new pens for each voter.
“This change was made for safety reasons to be able to keep people separated more easily in bigger locations, it was never intended to make it harder for people to vote. We were just looking at the bigger facilities that proper protocol could be followed,” stated Fort Payne Council President Brian Baine. “This was definitely not intended for a permanent change but only for this city election to help with keeping workers and voters safe. A lot of things have had to change due to COVID-19 and these changes are evolving every day. If folks are afraid to get out and vote we encourage them to vote absentee. If I am able to help anyone with that process I will be willing to do so,” Baine concluded.
Municipal elections in Alabama are still set to be held on August 25th. Candidate qualifying for municipal offices will begin on July 7th and run through July 21st.
Citizens interested in qualifying for municipal office must complete qualification paperwork through the City Clerk of their respective city. Potential candidates must: reside within the city limits of their city 90 days prior to Election Day, be a registered voter, file qualification paperwork with the City Clerk’s office, and pay the qualification fee. Any race that requires a run-off election, those contests will be settled on October 6th.
To vote absentee, please visit www.sos.alabama.gov.