Election sparks voter interest

Published 9:13 pm Thursday, October 30, 2008

According to Barry Hunt of the Marengo County Board of Registrars, 15,303 people are registered to vote in Tuesday’s general election.

“We registered 639 this month,” Hunt said for the month of October, “and that has kept us busy. There are 685 applications for absentee ballots.”

According to the census Website, there are 16,117 people in Marengo County who are of voting age – 18 or over – based on the 2000 census. The number of registered voters as of yesterday is about 95 percent of the 2000 voting-age population of Marengo County.

However, there have been some counties that border Marengo County that have had up to 10 percent more registered voters that what are eligible to vote. Much of that has been blamed on glitches in the computer system that may count voters who have died or moved to another location.

“We have what we call a purge month,” Hunt said, “which is January. That is when we used to get a list of people who have deceased, and we would go in and change all of that. Of course, now, it’s all hooked up to the computer. Things like that — if they didn’t show up, like if a person died in another county — it doesn’t necessarily mean that the computer system knew they were from Marengo County.

“A lot of times, there are duplicates, and we don’t like to think that it happens, but it does happen on occasion, and we are working now to straighten that out. That is one thing that I am finding in the system now — we used to register everybody under their Social Security number.

Now, we register them under the last four digits of their Social Security number or their driver’s license number. Well, sometimes, there is that glitch that does not pick up that old number that we used, and sometimes, it gets by. This system has a report we can run that searches for potential duplicates, and that’s what we’re doing right now.”

An analysis by The Birmingham News found six Alabama counties had more people on their voting rolls than the Census Bureau estimated they had people of voting age in 2007. The six counties were Conecuh, Greene, Lowndes, Perry, Washington and Wilcox.

Secretary of State Beth Chapman has asked the Alabama attorney general to investigate.

Chapman is predicting an 80 percent voter turnout Tuesday.