The recent redrawing of Alabama’s legislative districts is causing some confusion at the polls today.
Barry Stephenson, Jefferson County Board of Registrars chairman, said he spent a chunk of his morning fielding calls from voters who didn’t realize their state House districts had been changed.
“The state settled the lawsuit to redraw some of the State House districts and we implemented that in February,” said Stephenson, “It changed probably 30 to 40 percent of our voters’ districts, and they’re just now noticing.”
Voters were mailed information about the change, but, still, when they arrived at the polls, they were prepared to vote in a different district.
In another new twist to today’s vote, use of Jefferson County’s new electronic poll books is going well, Stephenson said. One or two of the poll books went down and required rebooting, Stephens, but since all of the precincts have multiple devices on hand, there was no disruption and people were able to vote.
Voters today are deciding among 10 people vying for their party’s nomination for governor. All of the other top statewide races also are on the ballot, along with seats in the Legislature and many judgeships and county offices. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For BirminghamWatch’s guide to today’s election, including sample ballots, profiles of candidates, tools to find your polling place or report a problem, read the Voter Guide.
For the most part, voting is going smoothly across the county, but there were individual issues here and there.
Hoover Met Confusion
Condelesa Harris and her husband, Rob, drove up to the Finley Center in Hoover to cast their votes in the primary election. The couple then walked a few hundred yards to their real polling place, the ballroom of the Hoover Met.
“I’m getting my steps,” she said. “I’m good.”
The Harrises were among the people who were confused by having two polling places at or near the Hoover Met. The Finley Center already was a polling place, and the ballroom of the Met was designated a polling place before today’s election, replacing the old Hunter Street Baptist Church location.
Joseph Reeves pulled in at the ballpark as the Harrises were pulling away.
“More cars were up there,” he said, explaining his trip to the other polling place. “This was our first time moving from Hunter Street and it just said I guess we just thought the general area of the Hoover Met.”
Tonya Bolden, chief inspector in the ballroom of the Met, said confusion regarding the former Hunter Street polling place is not new. At the last election, at least 200 people went to Hunter Street to vote, then learned their polling place had been moved to Finley Center.
“We were told they were sent notices,” said Bolden, who worked three times at the polls at Hunter Street and notched her fourth experience at the Met today. “That is the biggest issue we have.”
The Rev. Ken Gordon Jr., poll coordinator for the Hoover Democrats, said signs at the polling places were confusing. He said he knew where to go because he had scoped it out ahead of time. But a sign on Ben Chapman Road instructed drivers to turn left and go to the new Finley Center. Once there, some were told they needed to go next door.
“If I were going by those signs, I would have gone over there,” said Gordon, pastor and founder of House of Light Church. “The signs were not very good. The signs did not tell people who used to vote at Hunter Street that they needed to be here.
“I was hoping they would have had a sign out here that said, ‘Those of you who voted at Hunter Street, here’s where you come,’” he continued. “They didn’t do that. But no matter what it takes, you need to vote.”
Gordon said later that he was told that the sign directing drivers to the Finley Center would be reprogrammed with a clearer message.
Winners of today’s election will appear on the general election ballot in November. If no one wins a majority in a race today, they’ll meet their opponent in runoffs next month.
See BirminghamWatch’s Voter Guide for more information about the election and the candidates.