Long lines in Selma, just like the rest of the nation

Published 2:41 pm Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lines grew at various polling places Tuesday in Selma and Dallas County, but despite waits as long as five minutes, folks just wouldn’t turn away.

Calvin Jones brought his mother, Mary J. Jones, to the polls at Byrd Elementary and stood in line. Mary Jones is wheelchair bound. She was in Selma during the voting rights struggle in the mid-1960s. Calvin talked about what this day, the ability to vote for president of the United States, meant.

“I didn’t come out here just to turn around. (Voting is) very important for everything they went through. It’s in appreciation to the people that paved the way for us,” he explained. “Our birthday gift to our mother the day we turned 18 was Dallas County Courthouse Board of Registrars. All of her her kids’ birthday present to her was registering to vote the day we turned 18.”

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He pushed his mother’s wheelchair to the Dallas County Courthouse from the Smitherman building to vote. “It’s kind of frustrating. But it’s not frustrating enough to not come over here,” he said.

Many voters had their minds made up when they came to the polls. At Tipton Middle School, the phrases “ready for a change,” and “we want Obama to win” came from those waiting to mark their ballots.

Terrance Green, who votes at the East Selma Fire Station on Jeff Davis Avenue, saw long lines at 9 a.m., so he waited until afternoon to cast his ballot. Green said he would have waited in a long line, though, “because it’s time for a change.”

That long line earlier today was the result of a malfunction in the voting machine. One of the paper ballots had jammed in the machine and election officials had to wait about 15 minutes for technicians to fix the problem, said Ronald Jhons, chief inspector of the polls. About 25-30 people had to wait.

“They did stay in line,” Jhons said. “I would say they wanted their vote to count. A lot of them were going to work, so they couldn’t come back.”

Jhons said he’s surprised a lot of young people have turned out to cast their ballots today. “That’s not normal — not for this district, anyway.”

Election people have said nobody who is in line at poll closing time at 7 p.m. will be turned away. The end of the line will be marked at 7 p.m. and those already there will vote.