Worley needs to stop playing politics

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 20, 2005

To the editor,

I am not sure how much the citizens of Alabama are aware of the situation between the Board of Registrars and the Secretary of State. This relationship has slowly deteriorated for many reasons and circumstances, since the secretary of state first took office 2 1/2 years ago.

According to the Help America Voter Act (HAVA) that is going into effect January 2006, the state of Alabama is so behind in compiling with this national act that it is becoming a national embarrassment. The state has received and is presently holding approximately $43 million from the federal government to bring us into compliance with HAVA. This will ensure that Alabama has all its citizens voting on the same type of machines. Everyone will be working on one system, with the latest technology for 100 percent accuracy. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Yet our secretary of state has fought everyone from top to bottom, including the judges of probate and the supplier (Diebold) of the new equipment and software programs, primarily over one issue: control.

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A system this complex, that will reach so many state agencies and citizens of Alabama, is not one to play politics with.

It has been reported in the Huntsville Times on July 5, 2005, that it was the secretary of state’s decision to use Diebold. Not all principles involved agreed with her. The present system of Alvin could be upgraded and include all features required by state and federal laws. Cost on that would be a ballpark figure of $400,000 to $500,000, compared to the Diebold figure of $2.3 million.

It is my understanding that the state sheriffs association, the state association of circuit clerks and the state association of boards of registrars are willing to join in with the Alabama Association of Probate Judges in asking the U.S. Justice Department for a one-year extension, in which Alabama would not give up its government grant money until we are in place and ready for January 2007.

Alabama has been blessed (compared to other states) with its good and fair voting record, and the judge of probate offices work hard to keep it that way. We need to ensure that everyone in Alabama will be voting on the same type of machines and that all registrars, circuit clerks and sheriffs’ offices will be working on one system, with the latest technology.

Alabama is going to experience in the 2006 election cycle probably one of the biggest election years in the past 20 years. We need action now to prepare for this.

I ask people to call or write their state representatives asking for their help and expressing their concerns. Let’s help Alabama continue to grow in a first-class manner.

Doris A. Hearn, Chairman

Baldwin County Board of Registrars, Bay Minette

Vice-President, Alabama Association Board of Registrars