Selma council lays election plans

Published 10:50 pm Monday, August 11, 2008

Selma City Council members finalized polling matters Monday night in one of the last meetings before the Aug. 26 municipal election.

At hand, City Clerk Lois Williams said she’ll keep her office at City Hall open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to allow people to apply for absentee ballots.

The council also viewed the list of poll workers for precincts in their districts to ensure they were lined up.

Email newsletter signup

It’s uncertain if federal poll watchers will come to Selma for the election, said Jimmy Nunn, the city’s attorney.

City Councilman Cecil Williamson had asked for the U.S. Justice Department to send monitors to watch the polls and ensure a fair election.

Nunn said he sent the request shortly after Williamson asked him to.

“They called and asked one or two questions of me, and I answered them, and I haven’t heard back from them,” Nunn said.

The council also had asked for a ruling from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office about moving the responsibilities of the election from Williams, who serves as election manager, to Probate Judge Kim Ballard.

A majority of council members had requested the move several weeks ago in an effort lead by Williamson and Councilman Reid Cain. Both had said they thought the city clerk could not be fair.

However, the council has not received an opinion from the state.

“It’s too late now,” Nunn told the council.

The council also discussed 17 missing data packs, which at one time some council members thought might affect this election if they fell into the wrong hands.

The data packs are the brains of the optical scanner voting machine commonly used in the city’s election.

Darlene Rudolph, administrative assistant to the mayor, said she had talked to Mark Kelley, a representative for Election Systems & Software, who said he is tired of the controversy.

Council President George Evans had raised a question about the data packs when Kelley appeared before the council to talk about the security of ES&S machines. At that point, Kelley told the council it is highly unlikely that someone would have the proprietary knowledge and equipment to fix the packs and affect the upcoming municipal election.

The packs were first reported missing after the 2000 election, said Council member Bennie Ruth Crenshaw, and not in 2004 as discussed several weeks ago.

“Whoever got them, they have them in their dresser drawers,” Crenshaw said.

Nunn said he found a stash of the packs in the basement of City Hall in 2004, but not all of them.