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Chappell asks for campaigning ordinance

Published 10:38pm Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Councilman Tom Chappell wants the City of Hartselle to adopt an ordinance that would limit campaigning that is done in front of polling places.

He believes that residents shouldn’t be subjected to campaigning when they are going to vote.

“It’s getting out of control,” Chappell said. “Voters don’t need to be badgered when they go the polls to vote.

“I feel like we need to do something now or it will happen again on Oct. 9 and Nov. 6.”

Chappell asked Mayor Dwight Tankersley if there was anything the city could do to prevent it.

Tankersley said he has been advised by city attorney Larry Madison and the Alabama League of Municipalities not to pass any ordinances restricting campaigning at polling places and he vowed to veto any ordinance that tried to.

“I’m not going to do something against the advice of our city attorney and the League of Municipalities,” Tankersley said.

Tankersley admitted that the city received more complaints about campaigning around polling places during the Aug. 28 election than previous elections.

Alabama state law prohibits campaigning within 30 feet of the polling place’s front door, but Chappell said a candidate in the Aug. 28 municipal election was walking voters to the door.

However, Chappell also admitted that he hung around the Sparkman Civic Center polling place for a while on election day.

“But the only reason why I was there is so that my opponent didn’t get an advantage,” Chappell said.

Tankersley said the city is looking at ways to keep candidates from lining up in front of polling places. He is considering a policy to keep the sidewalks clear in front of Sparkman Civic Center on election day for safety reasons.

Beyond that, he doesn’t feel like there’s much that can be done.

“You can’t prevent people from campaigning,” Tankersley said.

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