2024 Election

Polls Close to End the 2024 Regular Primary Season – Except in Brighton

The polls are closed across the Birmingham area – except at Brighton Community Center, which will remain open until 9:30 tonight because the wrong ballots were delivered to that location this morning.

Presiding Probate Judge Jim Naftel explained that Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies correctly delivered the box that was marked for Brighton. The ballots in that box were incorrect.

Naftel said voting machines would not accept the ballots of the first eight persons who voted in Brighton. Those all went into the emergency bin until the chief inspector figured out what was going on.

“We discovered fairly early this morning that the wrong Democratic primary ballots were delivered to Brighton Community Center,” the judge said. “They’re supposed to have what we would call a D-7 ballot, the seventh Democratic primary ballot style.

“Sometimes precincts will have four or five ballots on each side, (Republican and Democrat),” Naftel said. “Fortunately, Brighton only has one Republican and one Democrat so that mitigated some of the issues but only D-4 ballots got delivered to Brighton when they should have had D-7s.”

Voting at that polling place was suspended until the correct D-7 ballots were on hand. By about 9:10 a.m., a few more people – fewer than 10 – came to vote and were told they could not at that time and were told they could come back later.

The persons who used the wrong ballots earlier could return and cast a provisional ballot, which would be counted among the total when votes are canvassed next Tuesday.

“Once we sort of resolved that issue, we then call Judge (Elisabeth) French, who’s the presiding circuit court judge, and said, ‘We need a court order,’” Naftel said. “On election day, I’m not a probate court judge. I’m the chief election official so I’ve gotta go up above my paygrade and get a court order to keep the precinct open an extra amount of time.”

Brighton Precinct 2150, one of the Bessemer precincts, has about 1,700 voters. French approved the precinct remaining open until 9:30.

“Anyone who heard a rumor that the precinct was closed or they didn’t have the right ballot or whatever it may be, they’ll have an extra two and a half hours after every other poll closes to go vote at Brighton,” the probate judge said, “and make sure your vote counts.”

Brighton wasn’t the only place where there was confusion because many were shifted to another district.

“I think we had to move 88,000 voters from House District 6 to House District 7,” Naftel said. “Barry (Stephenson), the board of registrar’s chairman, sends out a postcard anytime your voting lines change.

“Most people just get those and don’t even read them,” he said. “I would imagine a lot of people were surprised.”