Last-minute preparation on for election

Published 9:59 am Friday, August 22, 2008

City officials have geared up for election day with at least one surprise for some incumbents seeking re-election or election to a new office.

City Clerk Lois Williams presented a timeline Thursday evening to members of the Selma City Council, who met in a work session.

During her presentation, she said Election Software & Systems representative Mark Kelley will have two teams at City Hall on Tuesday at 4 a.m. to begin delivering voting machines to precincts. Owners of the buildings will open them up for Kelley’s teams.

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Williams has asked 16 city employees to secure the machines at all precincts until election workers show up at the polls around 6:30 a.m. Voters can’t cast ballots until 7 a.m. Polls will remain open until 7 p.m.

Cecil Williamson of Ward 1 cringed at the announcement of city employees providing security until poll workers arrive. “One of them could slip one of those missing black boxes into those machines, and it will be all over,” he said.

Williamson referred to 17 black memory packs missing from a prior municipal election in Selma. Some candidates, including Williamson, who seeks re-election to Ward 1, have raised concerns about other candidates using the memory packs to skew the elections.

Kelley said it’s nearly impossible for that to occur. Someone would have to have access to proprietary information and special equipment used by ES&S.

Council President George Evans asked Williams to bring a list of the 16 city employees to Monday’s meeting of the city council.

Councilman Johnnie Leashore of Ward 6 offered to pay minimum wage for 16 people of Williamson’s choosing to ride with the machines.

“I need two,” Williamson answered.

Two police sergeants will guard the boxes the night before in the basement at City Hall.

In another security move, the technology department of the city took up pass cards from department heads and others, including Mayor James Perkins Jr. and Evans, to audit who had access to the building.

“Everybody in the building doesn’t have access cards,” the mayor said.

Evans and the mayor received their new access cards Thursday.