Voting machines will go to the city hall basement

Published 9:02 pm Monday, July 28, 2008

Voting machines will sleep in the basement of Selma City Hall on election eve.

The Selma City Council voted to store the machines in the basement Aug. 25, the evening before the election Aug. 26.

The decision didn’t come without some contention.

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Council President George Evans, a candidate for mayor, wanted the machines in a spare room between ES&S representative Mark Kelley and some of his workers at the Hampton Inn.

He raised concerns about 17 missing data packs from the 2000 election. Initially, 34 boxes were missing. All but 17 were returned. “The rest of them cannot be inventoried anywhere,” Evans said.

During a meeting last week, Kelley said if someone had the proprietary information and old machines, they could theoretically change the data in the pack. He also indicated such a circumstance would be unlikely.

Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw said if the machines weren’t stored in the basement of City Hall, then they should go to a neutral place, such as the Federal Building in Selma.

About two weeks ago, Gene Hisel, a candidate for council president, made the same call about a week ago, speaking from the steps of the Federal Building.

Mayor James Perkins Jr. disagreed with Evans and Crenshaw.

“The only people who have the knowledge of how to change those boxes are the ones you want to leave the box with. I am not in agreement,” the mayor said.

The machines will be stored in the basement with proper security, according to the vote passed by the council.