Precinct workers report slow start in primary runoffs

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Voters trickled into most polling precincts early this morningto cast their ballots in the Democratic Party runoff election.

Voters will decide today who will represent the Democratic Partyin the state auditor’s race and four local races: District Foursupervisor, both justice court judges and Post One constable.

Every county ballot will include at least the state auditor andone of the judge’s races, said Circuit Clerk Terry LynnWatkins.

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In Post One, Ralph Boone will meet Art Likens for justice courtjudge with Carl Brown and Ann Reeves racing for the judge’s benchin Post Two. The winner of the Post Two race will be the Democraticnominee to face Republican Freddie Canon in the Nov. 6 generalelection.

Clint A. Earls and Kelly Porter are vying for the Post Oneconstable seat in the other multi-district race. With no Republicanor independent opposition, today’s runoff winner can claim theseat.

In the only race involving only one district, incumbent DistrictFour Supervisor Doug Moak meets former supervisor C.E. “Eddie”Brown on today’s ballot for the Democratic nomination. The winnerof the runoff will advance to the general election to meetindependent Earl H. Brown.

Only a handful of voters had cast their votes at the BrookhavenHigh School and Government Complex precincts in the first hoursfollowing the opening of the polls at 7 a.m.

“Three weeks ago, we had a lot of them by this time,” saidDorothy Watkins, poll manager at the high school. “Maybe it willpick up as the day goes by.”

Voters were more lively in District Four, where three localraces are on the ballot. At 8:30 a.m., 25 of 1,247 registeredvoters in the Halbert Heights precinct had cast their votes.

“I’m very thankful of the opportunity to vote,” said WesleyKent. “I wish more people would vote. A good citizen will.”

Bonita Bullock, the Halbert Heights poll manager, said the lowturnout was expected, but she had hoped for more.

“We should have three times as much as more,” she said. “I’mdisappointed the people don’t care as much of those in the runoffas they did in the primaries. (The candidates) have worked hard toget here and deserve the vote.”

The polls will remain open until 7 p.m.

“We hope as the day goes on we’ll have more come out,” Bullocksaid. “They may feel there’s no rush and will come in as they getup and get to moving around.”

Johnette Henderson, a voter at Government Complex, said she wassurprised by the inactivity.

“I thought when I came in it would be busy, but it was empty. Iwondered if it had started,” she said.

Henderson was disappointed in her fellow citizens and said shehopes they were just slow in getting to the polls today.

“You don’t have a right to complain about the government andwhat’s going on if you don’t exercise your right to vote,” shesaid. “So many people complain about what’s bad about thegovernment, but if you don’t get out and vote you can’t change it.This is our voice.”

Henderson said people needed to remember the costs of securingthe right to vote, citing the sacrifices of soldiers and the civilrights workers who brought the vote to women and minorities.

“It’s something that’s been fought for many times,” she said.”So many went through so much to give us this right. Not exercisingthat right and voting when you can is saying they did it all fornothing.”

Doris Coleman, a poll worker at Government Complex, expressedsome irritation at the turnout.

“People have given their lives for people to vote and some stillwon’t get off it,” she said. “(Through voting) you can voice youropinion to the higher powers and get them to do something.”

Despite a slow turnout, poll workers said they were ready for a7 a.m. rush in case voters wanted to cast their ballot on their wayto work.

Helen Funk, Democratic Party chairwoman, said she was pleasedwith the election process this morning. She said she had receivedvery few calls from poll managers reporting a problem, and thoseshe received were easily fixed.

“We were ready early this time,” Dorothy Watkins said. “We hadno problems with the machines this time.”

In the primaries, she said it was a few minutes after 7 a.m.before the machines were ready because of technical issues.

Bullock said preparations at Halbert Heights also went well.

“This morning went just like a top. No problems at all,” shesaid.

The runoff election is open to all voters who cast their ballotson the Democratic ticket or who did not cast a vote in the Aug. 7primaries. There are no Republican runoffs on the local ballot.