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Regulations end voting

at Army reserve center

By BETH LAKEY

Staff Writer

Pike County residents who vote at the Army Reserve Training Center on Elba Highway will only be able to do so one more time.

Voting for the Mar. 21 Constitutional Amendment Election is only being allowed there because it is a nonpartisan election.

The problem election officials face now is finding a polling site for the Republican and Democratic Primaries in June.

Pike County Probate Judge Bill Stone said he found out about the problem when he went through the formality of writing a request for use of the Army Reserve facility. That request was denied based on a federal regulation that prohibits political activities in a federal facility.

A memo dated Oct. 13, 1999 and sent to Stone states "United States Army Reserve Commanders are reminded that the Department of Defense policy has for many years prohibited the use of military facilities/installations for any activity that could be construed as political in nature. Army Reserve facilities are not to be used as polling or voting sites."

Stone said he is not likely the only probate judge facing this problem.

"We’re dealing with a national situation," Stone said.

Since the Mar. 21 election is nonpartisan, Stone contacted the offices of U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions and U.S. Rep Terry Everett, asking for assistance in clearing up the matter.

Stone said their help made is possible to use the building on a "one-time emergency basis" for the election being held next week.

"I raised the question that the political process is not partisan," Stone said. "But, we don’t have anywhere to go after March 21."

But, that leaves city and county officials in somewhat of a bind for the June primaries because polling places have to be approved by the Pike County Commission and Troy City Council prior to the election.

In the city limits of Troy, residents in both District 3 and 4 vote at the Army Reserve Center.

"What we’re trying to do is work together (to find another location)," said Troy City Clerk Alton Starling.

Both city and county officials want voters to only go one place to vote and are taking that into consideration when looking at alternative voting sites.

Starling said the city council has to have everything finalized for municipal elections by June 27.

"I’m trying to take care of things before then," Starling said.

Pike County residents of Precinct 13 also vote at the Army Reserve Center.