Close race drives Adams County voters to polls

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 8, 2000

A close presidential election may have contributed to a high voter turnout in Adams County.

Based on unofficial numbers from the circuit clerk’s office, more than 63 percent of registered voters made time for a trip to the polls Tuesday — up 10 percent over the fall 1999 elections.

&uot;Adams County had a very good election,&uot; said Adams County Circuit Clerk M.L. &uot;Binkey&uot; Vines.

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Adams County has 23,142 people listed as registered voters with 22,773 of those classified as active voters. Out of the active number, 14,489 people cast ballots in Adams County Tuesday.

The numbers are not wholly accurate, however, because problems at polling places have at least 300 absentee ballots left to be counted.

&uot;It’s wonderful,&uot; said Anne Allmand, a poll worker at the Courthouse precinct. &uot;I’m glad to see it because there’s been so much apathy lately, especially among the younger voters.&uot;

Poll workers at Duncan Park and Adams County Courthouse turned off the ballot machines and began the electronic count before the absentee ballots had been run.

Also, at Carpenter School, the ballot machine unexpectedly jammed while absentee ballots were being fed through, forcing workers to discontinue the count until today, Vines said.

A large number of affidavit ballots and discrepancies between registered absentee voters and the actual number received will also delay ballot certification.

&uot;We’ll never get certified tomorrow, that’s for sure,&uot; Vines said. &uot;It may not be until Friday&uot; or later.

Polls were also plagued by a uncommonly large number of &uot;spoiled&uot; ballots — those rejected by ballot machines because they had been marked inappropriately, said Election Commission Evelyn Smith.

Several poll workers blamed the spoiled ballots on an unfamiliar list of eight presidential and vice presidential candidates. A maximum of three ballots are allotted to each voter.

Still, voter turnout met and exceeded high expectations in many locations. Poll workers at Adams County Courthouse and Lovely Lane Methodist Church found people waiting in line when they opened at 7 a.m.

Jacqulyn Williams, receiving and returning manager at the Maryland Heights polling location, said voters had been arriving in a steady flow, with noticeable &uot;spurts&uot; at times.

&uot;(There are) a number of younger voters, as well,&uot; she said. &uot;They’ve really been coming out and that’s good.&uot;

Like most poll locations, the number of ballots cast represented just less than half of the total registered in the precinct.

Nolan Bridgewater said he has always exercised his voting rights. &uot;I’ve tried to control how things are in this country,&uot; he said.

Bridgewater offered a ride to the polls to life-long friend Billy Joe Washington, whose car had broken down.

Washington said he appreciated the lift, but would have walked to the polls if he’d had to. &uot;Today, everything else would have had to wait,&uot; he said. &uot;You’ve got to go vote.&uot;

Janie Barnes, a senior citizen, relied on Natchez Transit to bring her to the polls, where a worker climbed onto the bus and witnessed her ballot as she sat confined to a wheelchair.

Older voters also turned out in large numbers at the Convention Center on Liberty Road, but poll worker Hugh Freeman said he was most surprised by the unusually large number of black voters.

&uot;I’d say it’s been four to one (in favor of blacks),&uot; he said.

Frankie Shannon, a first-time voter at 25, found herself sitting outside the Convention Center polls promoting the Democratic party.

A close friend convinced her to vote Tuesday morning, and the two then volunteered to spend the day campaigning.

&uot;After I did it, I felt so good,&uot; she said. &uot;I said, ‘So this is what I’ve been missing.’&uot;

Voters at Duncan Park expressed different reasons for voting Tuesday.

Roy Strickland said the future of the U.S. Supreme Court was his primary concern.

&uot;I would say that according to my philosophy the next president is going to appoint at least three supreme court judges,&uot; said Strickland, who said that he wanted to make sure the president appointed people who supported his views.

Danielle Wheat, 24, said she was concerned about restrictions on firearms.

&uot;I just wanted to make sure Bush gets elected — give him an extra vote,&uot; she said.

Janie Jones, a voter at the Oakland precinct, had similar thoughts.

&uot;If you want to see changes … you need to get to the polls and vote,&uot; she said.