Candidates raise questions about election

Published 4:20 pm Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A couple of candidates in the Selma City Council Ward 4 race have raised questions about the eligibility of Concordia College students voting in Tuesday’s municipal election.

At least one of those candidates, Carrie Pressley, said she’d appear before the Selma City Council when it meets Tuesday to certify the election. She wants some answers.

Pressley and Carolyn Bates, who also has raised questions about the student voting, were runners-up in the Ward 4 vote results behind Angela Benjamin and Kelvin Williams.

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Benjamin led the ticket with 282 votes and Williams followed with 220 votes. Neither received a clear majority, meaning a run-off Oct. 7.

Pressley followed with 216 votes and Bates with 211 or 22 percent of the vote each. Both women have said they believe they possibly would have an opportunity at the runoff if the students hadn’t voted.

“Two people in the runoff are both Perkins supporters,” Pressley said.

Pressley said vans with Perkins for Mayor stickers on them loaded up college students and brought them to the polls. Each student had a sample ballot with lines drawn to the names of Benjamin and Williams, she added.

At least one student, said Pressley, told her his parents didn’t know he changed his voter registration from his home address to his college address.

Pressley did not identify the student. She said she also had access to video footage of the students voting and she took photographs of some of the students with her cell phone’s camera.

“The vans came and went so often loaded with students that I started to video and take pictures,” she said.

Bates, who couldn’t be reached for comment, appeared on a local radio program Wednesday morning to talk about the issue. She said she believes some of the students might have voted illegally.

“I think it is voter fraud,” she said on the program, “Viewpoint.”

Concordia College interim President McNair Ramsey said the administration doesn’t tell students how to vote, but encourages voter registration.

Each year as students arrive on campus, they have the opportunity to register to vote, said Ramsey, who has worked on campus for 27 years. “Every year we’ve had the same kind of thing,” he said.

The college administration was not involved in any of Tuesday’s activities, Ramsey said.