Runoff goes well, officials say

Published 5:00 am Thursday, June 29, 2006

When the polls closed Tuesday, only 1.16 percent of registeredvoters in Lincoln County had cast their votes in the Democraticrunoff primary for the U.S. Senate.

However, the process involving new touch-screen voting machineswas improved and ran more smoothly than two weeks ago, electionofficials said.

“The machines went fine. Everyone was more familiar,” said GlenWallace, a Johnson precinct poll worker. “The voter turnout wasmuch less than before.”

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Many things can factor into low voter turnout, especially in arunoff election.

“I think the candidates had not really campaigned in this areaso they (voters) didn’t know them,” said Lincoln County CircuitClerk Terry Watkins. “So, I think rather than voting for the wrongperson they just didn’t come out.”

Most poll workers shared the same sentiment about the day’sresults. At the Old Red Star precinct, only two votes were cast inthe 12 hours polls were open.

“The machines were fine,” said Julia Brown, a poll worker at theNorfield precinct. “We had a smooth day but the turnout waslower.”

Changes were made to help poll managers better understand theprocedures for using the machines, and extra training was providedfor those who wanted to participate.

“The only thing that was different was our Diebold technicianshortened the opening and closing instructions to simplify thelanguage,” Watkins said. “Plus, we had another training day foranyone who wanted to go through everything again.”

Yvonne Davis, a Ruth precinct poll worker, said the updatedinstructions were short and to the point.

“We didn’t have any complaints,” said Helen Funk, the county’sDemocratic executive committee chairwoman. “We are really pleasedwith how everything turned out and how well the workers handledeverything.”

When the final vote was tallied, 300 votes were cast in LincolnCounty. Bill Bowlin received 162 votes and Erik Fleming received138 votes in Lincoln County.

It was much the same situation in Lawrence County, said CircuitClerk Cindy Stokes.

A paltry 2.5 percent of voters went to the polls casting a totalof 256 votes in complete but unofficial totals, she said. Flemingreceived 159 votes to Bowlin’s 93 votes with four blank ballotscast. One affadavit ballot was cast.

Stokes said she could not explain the blank ballots, butadmitted it was possible a few voters did not understand how to usethe new touch-screen machines.

She said a few poll workers experienced some minor problems withinstalling the printers on the machines and loading the paper,which creates a trail for use to validate votes in the event of arecount.

“I’m extremely proud of the poll workers,” Stokes said. “Theyhad a very long day and did a good job.”