Scattered voting problems reported Tuesday

lfabian@macon.comSeptember 17, 2013 

Sporadic problems reported during Tuesday’s historic Macon-Bibb County election aren’t likely to interfere with certification, Elections Supervisor Jeanetta Watson said.

After visiting precincts all day and hearing from poll managers by phone, Watson said the glitches were confined to precincts at the Hephzibah Children’s Home, Vineville United Methodist Church and Middle Georgia State College.

“I have not heard of anywhere else that had any issues,” Watson said. “I’ve been out there looking myself, and things were running like a well-oiled machine.”

Macon City Councilwoman Nancy White took issue with Watson’s statement.

White said she reported at lunchtime that her brother and sister-in-law had encountered a problem at the Northeast High School precinct.

The couple’s address was validated for District 3, but they had ballots for District 2 and reported the error before voting, White told The Telegraph in an email Tuesday afternoon.

“The frustrating thing is, it is the identical issue my relatives reported the 3rd day of early voting and it wasn’t corrected!” White commented on Facebook.

Several of her family members were given ballots with incorrect voting districts.

Bibb County Commissioner Gary Bechtel said his son, who turned 18 earlier this week, had difficulty voting at the Howard 7 precinct at Northside Christian Church..

The Sam Bechtel was originally given a voting card with the wrong Social Security number and had to be issued a new one.

But when he went to vote Tuesday, his name wasn’t listed on the rolls. Eventually, his name was found and he was able to cast his ballot.

Bechtel said he received several calls from constituents who told him they were voting in District 6 when they thought they were supposed to vote in District 4.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office had a team of three poll watchers in Bibb County.

Spokesman Jared Thomas said they had received 10 to 15 complaints as of 6 p.m.

“The number of complaints we received today was very small,” Thomas said. “We didn’t see anything to indicate widespread problems.”

A Secretary of State staff member was also at the Board of Elections office as the ballots were tallied Tuesday evening.

Voting hiccups surfaced early Tuesday morning.

At the Hazzard 7 precinct at Hephzibah Children’s Home on Zebulon Road, several voters were initially listed as voting in the District 6 commission race when they should have been voting in the District 4 race.

The voters told the poll manager about the error, and they were given re-coded voting cards to allow them to vote in the proper commission race, said Veronica Seals, a Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections employee.

Seals said she did not know how many voters were affected.

District 4 commission candidate Theron Ussery came by the elections office to report the problem, but officials were already aware of them.

Before 10 a.m., Barbara White, poll manager at the gymnasium of Middle Georgia State College, said she had two voters who reported being in the wrong district, but it didn’t take long to correct.

“They tell me and we can encode it over here,” White said as voters picked up their cards. “Six is coming up, but 9 is the right district.”

At Vineville 7 precinct at Ingleside United Methodist Church, some voters living on Pierce Avenue were in the wrong district, an issue that originally surfaced in early voting a couple of weeks ago, Watson said.

“We knew to look out for those people and we did,” she said.

Staff writers Phillip Ramati and Oby Brown contributed to this report.

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