Power outage doesn’t slow voting; turnout at 26 percent

Published 12:21 pm Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Just shy of 8,000 voters made it to the polls for Lincoln County primary elections Tuesday, which went smoothly with new electronic poll books. Not even a downed power line at a voting station caused a kink in the process.

At the West Lincoln polling station, a tree fell on a power line temporarily cutting the power and sparking a small grass fire. Zetus Volunteer Fire Department and the Forestry Commission put it out. Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Dustin Bairfield said Emergency Coordinator Clifford Galey was able to help get a generator to the site, as the poll machines can run on battery power 30 minutes. He also enlisted Sheriff Steve Rushing to check everything out, who said the power was back up and running before the generator was needed, and voting was never interrupted. Bairfield said Magnolia Electric and all who helped out were truly a Godsend in handling the situation.

“I think we had a very smooth election considering it was with new poll books,” Bairfield said. “We ran into a few little issues that we always have like an outlet not having power, or a poll worker just wanting to call and confirm the first time someone used the new poll book, we had a couple of those. But we were really and truly blessed that everything went smooth. I haven’t had a candidate complain to me about anything particular.”

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There were 7,854 ballots cast (26.2 percent turnout), and at the end of the night there were 11 voters with no ID who will have to show ID, three Democratic ballots and six Republican ballots that would not feed and were being entered manually.

“Overall I think the new poll books, from the feedback that I received from most voters, was that they enjoyed it, they liked it. It was faster, the poll worker was able to tell them where to go,” Bairfield said. “I know our call volume was down at the office.”

Bairfield said the election commissioners went to the polling stations in the morning and in the evening, which was a little extra insurance for a smooth election, in case poll workers had questions. Bairfield said that was much appreciated, and it was really nice to report that they were up and running at 7 a.m.

“There were a couple of surprising races because I truly expected some run-offs where we don’t have run-offs,” Bairfield said. “Randy Belcher dropping out is going to put Lavon [Boyd] where he doesn’t have a runoff. The tax collector race with one of them getting over 50 percent — so I was surprised on a few of them I really was.”