WHNT News 19 Taking Action to help voters

voting booths

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — It’s a massive undertaking, every four years the United States asks its citizens to select a president.

For the most part things work well. But despite the best efforts of election officials, not everything goes as it should.

We’ve been working this election season to follow up on any concerns about voting irregularities or problems voters in the Tennessee Valley have encountered today.

If you’ve had a problem or want to report an irregularity, use our Action Button, provide a few details and we’ll follow up.

We were notified this evening that an unknown number of voters at the Alabama A&M precinct were “turned away,” and not allowed to vote a provisional ballot, after being told they did not appear on the voter lists.

WHNT News 19 is working to get more information, but Madison County Elections Administrator Frank Barger said poll workers are not turning any voters away, they’d be allowed to vote provisional.

We also followed up on a viewer’s concern about ballots seemingly left unattended at Alabama A&M for more than an hour last night, in an area with heavy foot traffic.

Barger told WHNT News 19 Tuesday morning that he had not heard of the problem until we contacted him.

“Please keep in mind that the ballots are accounted for/numbers verified by election workers before any polling location opens,” he said. “This step ensures that the sealed ballots have not been compromised in any way.  This verification occurred prior to Precinct 1/A&M University opening this morning.  We will assess the situation and address for future elections.”

We also addressed a south Huntsville family’s concerns that their son, who was registered to vote, did not appear on the voting rolls today. He was allowed to vote, but the family was concerned about what happened, and if somebody else was using his name to cast an improper vote.

We spoke to Lynda Hairston, who chairs the Madison County Board of Registrars. When she searched for the young man’s name it did not appear on the state’s voting registration web site. Hairston pledged to follow up and after some diligent searching, she determined his name was removed because it was similar to one man’s name in Dallas County and they shared a birthdate.

Hairston said the young man has been restored to the voting rolls, but WHNT News 19 will continue to press for answers on how many other people might have experienced similar problems today, with less clear results.

A Hartselle resident expressed concern that the First Baptist Church in Hartselle was displaying the message, “Grow wisely” with an X drawn through the word “liquor.” That was in reference to Hartselle’s wet vs. dry vote on liquor sales.

We contacted the Alabama Secretary of State’s office and were told that as long as the sign was at least 30 feet from the front of the polling place, it was lawful.

It would not have been lawful, WHNT News 19 was told, for any signs to be inside the church-polling place urging voters to oppose liquor sales.

WHNT News 19 spoke to Jeff Johnson, a Hartselle attorney and a leader of the “no” vote movement for alcohol sales.

Johnson told WHNT News 19 that a number of residents were angry about the sign. He said the “no” vote supporters were concerned the church sign would be damaged, so they took the message down this afternoon.

A viewer also contacted us about a poll worker at Hillwood Baptist opening a vote-counting machine at about 1:30 p.m. today. He said the poll worker told him that it was opened to restack the ballots.

The Secretary of State’s office told WHNT News 19 there is a process for opening the machine.  The office said it is lawful for workers to do so because ballots get scattered all over the machine once they are submitted and machines can jam if the ballots aren’t occasionally stacked.