Things that should not happen

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The issue:

Poll workers did not show up, machines crashed and people were sent to other voting places a couple of times during Tuesday&8217;s bond election.

Our position: Officials have discussed this election since November. It should have run smoother.

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Some military personnel have a phrase for what happened at many precincts in Selma during Tuesday&8217;s bond election. But the Times-Journal is a family newspaper, and you won&8217;t see that phrase here.

Tuesday&8217;s election provided the worst of all possible scenarios.

First, sensitive machines were dumped into a flatbed truck and exposed to rainfall from a thunderstorm. The mechanics of these voting machines could not stand up to the beating.

We&8217;re not aware of any manufacturer of voting machines that guarantees the objects will function after being drenched in a downpour.

It&8217;s not like those who carried the machines around to polling places didn&8217;t know about the weather. After all, Dallas County was under a significant weather watch for a couple of hours prior to the polls opening.

Somebody dropped the machine &8212; er &8212; ball on this one.

Somebody also dropped a couple of the voting machines, according to some poll workers in the city. Again, these machines have intricate pieces in them, and the shock of being tossed from a flat bed truck or bounced around on a table does not do them any good.

Most surprising, however, was the human element at the polls. Some poll workers didn&8217;t bother to report for duty, forcing city officials to beg voters standing in line to volunteer to work the poll.

Yes, the Selma City Council had changed poll workers on their lists nearly a week ago to comply with state law that requires Class 4 cities to use poll workers who live within the wards they will labor in on election day.

It seems the city has never abided by this law because officials didn&8217;t know about it until Councilman Cecil Williamson brought it up during a city council meeting.

How frustrating on election day to stop off at a polling place to cast a ballot only to find a single poll worker sitting at a table without any support.

Equally frustrating is most of those who vote early in the morning can&8217;t get back to the polls before they close.

Shame on our city officials for not following through on this important aspect. Shame on those poll workers, even the alternates, for not showing up to perform the duty they had promised to carry out.

Voting is a very precious right. Nobody should know that better than the registered voters &8212; black and white &8212; here in Selma, the home of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Less than a mile from a precinct where people waited for someone to show up for work at the poll was the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where people gave their lives for the right to vote.

This is how we honor their memories by holding a haphazard election?

Shame on our officials and shame on those who failed to appear at the polls to work for such a mess.