Officials working to correct polling location errors

Published 3:00 am Thursday, August 18, 2016

Officials are working to resolve an issue regarding a polling location card that accidentally directed 20 percent of Troy residents to incorrect polling places for Tuesday’s municipal elections.

The notice, sent out by the Pike County Board of Registrars, listed voting locations for federal and state elections instead of municipal elections. For approximately 2,400 of the city’s nearly 12,000 registered voters, those voting locations are different in municipal elections.

Troy City Clerk Alton Starling said in a statement that “the system in use by the board of registrars is unable to distinguish between precinct (federal and state elections) and voting district (municipality). Voters that have a different precinct and voting location for the municipal election were mailed an incorrect voting location.”

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“Mistakes happen,” Starling said Wednesday. “No good deed goes unpunished. I asked the board of registrars for help and they helped, they just made a mistake. We caught it and turned it around as quick as we could.”

Starling has sent a letter correcting the polling location to the 2,400 voters who received the incorrect information. Poll workers will also have the voter list on hand Tuesday to direct voters who come to the wrong location.

Starling said the cards are mailed out in a proactive attempt to address voters’ confusion because they may have a different polling place for municipal elections than they do for state and federal elections.

“I always do this because there’s always confusion on election day,” Starling said. “People always just go to where they voted last when that may not be their assigned polling place for municipal elections because precinct lines and district lines don’t match up.”

The most affected district was District 5, where 965 residents received cards identifying the wrong location; in District 4, the total was 769 residents; in District 1, the most contested race, 361 residents; District 2, 187; and District 3, 184.

The correct polling places for each district are the Troy Public Library on East Walnut Street for District 1, the National Guard Armory on George Wallace Drive for District 2, Troy Parks and Recreation Center on Enzor Road for District 3, First Baptist Church on College Street for District 4, and the Pike County Courthouse on Church Street for District 5.

Incumbent District 5 candidate Dejerilyn King Henderson said she was notified by one of her constituents about the issue, which she then passed on to Starling.

“They got a card in the mail that told them the Troy Public Library was their polling place,” Henderson said. “So they contacted me and said ‘You said that we should go to the Pike County Courthouse, so where are we supposed to go?’”

The correct polling place for District 5 residents is the Pike County Courthouse. The Troy Public Library is the polling place for District 1 residents.

“I think Alton and (the officials) are making a really good effort to get it corrected, but it’s so close to the election that I think more needs to be done. You’re going to have people that show up at the wrong place that will be disgusted, frustrated and disappointed, so instead of going to another place, they just don’t vote,” Henderson said. “That’s actually voter suppression. People need a way to know before they even get out of their car, or arrangement need to be made to provide adequate transportation to people who come to the wrong voting place to keep a fair and transparent election.”

District 5 candidate Wanda Moultry thanked the city for taking quick action to correct the issue.

“Once communication with the election manager was done, they took corrective action,” she said. “I thank them for going back in to try and correct that. Hopefully that gets out in time.”

Moultry said she’s also informing District 5 residents of the proper polling place while she is out campaigning to alleviate confusion.

Alton Starling: In the board of registrars they keep a list of precincts in which a voter votes. Precinct is for federal, state and county elections. District and precinct lines don’t match up. I asked them to send out a notice about where to vote. When they sent that out, they sent it by precinct instead of by district. What I had to do was send a letter out yesterday to everybody that was incorrectly told by mistake. 361 District 1, 187 in District 2, 769 in District 4, 965 in District 5, District 3 184. I always do this because there’s always confusion on election day. They go where they voted last. Let’s say you go to District 5 and you say Im ready to vote again. I’ve given poll workers complete poll list so they can turn to the voter and say you need to go here to vote, not here. In any event, we’re not going to prevent them from voting, but it may be provisional.