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Marengo Commission approves poll book purchase

Pointed discussion on how to handle the purchase of electronic poll books highlighted the bulk of an otherwise brief Marengo County Commission meeting on July 11 in Linden at the Marengo County Courthouse.

With the overall price of the machines, Commissioner Freddie Armstead questioned the true need for buying them.

“We don’t have the money. We don’t have the $13,000,” Armstead said.

Each poll book will cost the county $850 and the commission had to pass a resolution and make a decision during the July meeting  in order to prepare for the primary election for the U.S. Senate seat, which opened when Jeff Sessions was appointed U.S. Attorney General.

Armstead’s said he felt the primary reason for the electronic poll books was to avoid voters crossing party lines in run-off elections.

“It is no doubt politically motivated,” said Marengo County attorney W.W. Dinning Jr., who indicated the state is requiring counties to use electronic poll books. The new law places the burden of buying the equipment on the counties.

“Why don’t we just tell them to go to hell,” Armstead said. “It’s the Republicans putting something else on us to keep track of what you’re doing and to keep people from cross-over voting.”

Commissioner Jason Windham said the electronic poll books used on loan from the state in Demopolis help to speed up the process during last year’s election.

In the end, the commission voted to pass the resolution and purchase 12 of the electronic poll books for the upcoming election to be used at poll places with the highest number of voters. The rest of the books needed for the county will be purchased before the 2018 election cycle.

Other matters approved by the commission include the following:

• error corrections in assessments.

• the grand jury report.

• keeping a User Fee CD at the First Bank of Linden.

• Calling for bids to pressure wash the courthouse, annex and jail. Bids will be opened at the next meeting on Aug. 8.

(This article originally appeared in the Saturday, July 15, print edition of the Demopolis Times.)