City vote could pair with special election

Published 3:00 am Thursday, April 20, 2017

Officials in the City of Troy are doubtful a referendum on Sunday alcohol sales can be held during a statewide special election later this year.

Alton Starling, city clerk, began exploring the possibility after Gov. Kay Ivey announced she was moving up a special election to fill the Senate seat of former Sen. Jeff Sessions to December of this year. Former governor Robert Bentley had scheduled the election to coincide with the next general election to be held in 2018.

Starling said he will be meeting with Pike County Probate judge Wes Allen and lawyers with the Alabama League of Municipalities to consider the move.

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“We’re going to work through that and talk about it,” Starling said.

Starling said coordinating the referendum with the special election could cause two problems relating to non-residents of Troy possibly voting on the referendum.

One problem, Starling said, is that an official could accidentally give a referendum ballot to someone who isn’t eligible to vote and that person might.

“You could jeopardize someone unintentionally,” Starling said. “You don’t want to put someone under an investigation if you don’t have to.”

That also could cause would be to render the referendum invalid, which Starling said would mean the referendum would have to be held again.

“If it’s determined that people were allowed to vote from outside the city, we might not be able to move forward with it,” Starling said.

“If it’s determined that enough people voted yes and there are people outside the city voting for it to happen or not to happen, you might have to turn around and hold another one.”

To hold the referendum concurrent with the statewide election, Starling said there would need to be two voter lists to ensure everyone gets the right ballots.

Marcus Paramore, council president, said holding the votes together would result in some residents having to go to different polling places for the Senate vote and referendum vote, which could increase the likelihood of the wrong ballot being given to someone and the election being challenged.

“In my district, for example, there are people that live in the county outside city limits that come to the recreation center to vote in gubernatorial or statewide election,” Paramore said. “You’d have to have a ballot with senate race and the referendum on it and a different ballot for those outside city limits.

“Another section of my district votes at the armory for all statewide elections, so they could have to vote for the Senate seat there and then at the rec center for the referendum.”

Starling and Paramore said that the only reason to combine the elections would be if it could save the city money.

“If it could save us a ton of money, I’d definitely want to do it,” Paramore said. “But I don’t think it will save us that much money. It’s something we have to look at.”

Allen said his office is preparing for the election just like any other year.

“Our team will approach this special election like all other regular elections,” Allen said.

“We will work hard and make sure everything is ready to go for the August 15 primary and other special election dates this year.”