Voting space neededPublished 12:20am Wednesday, November 14, 2012
One thing is obvious after the Nov. 6 General Election: The American Legion Post 52 Annex in Hartselle is too small to accommodate two elections being conducted simultaneously.
Due to a lengthy ballot, limited space and a record number of voters casting ballots, the squeeze was on from beginning to end. Long waiting lines were the order of the day, even at closing time at 7 p.m. Some voters stood in line for as long as an hour and a half before reaching a registration table and receiving a ballot.
Space was compromised because provisions had to be made for three registration tables in the front part of the building. Two were used to register those voting in the General Election while the third was restricted to those casting ballots in the municipal option election pertaining to the wet-dry question.
Splitting the building down the middle left far too little space for the two lines of voters (A-L and M-Z) participating in the General Election. Some of the voters had to walk sideways as they entered the single door and moved from the end of the registration tables to the voting area. Voters were then cramped together as they sat and marked their ballots. Privacy was definitely compromised.
Another problem that cropped up as a result of the lines that began forming at the Sparkman Street entrance was the absence of signage directing voters to form two lines, one for A-L and another for M-Z. The result was that election officials had to make frequent trips to the back of the line to direct voters.
More parking space was also needed. After parking space around the voting center was filled, voters were forced to park on streets as far as 500 feet away.
Not only that, but think about if we didn’t have such wonderful weather on Nov. 6. Voters would have had to wait in lines during a rainstorm because there was not a covered area for voters to wait in line.
While buildings large enough to accommodate 4,000 voters are not easy to come by, a better accommodation surely exists. What about the J.C. Pettey Center on the Hartselle High School campus? Perhaps the school system would be willing to give up the facility in order to accommodate voters on future election days.
If not there, what about the old armory building, which the city purchased earlier this year? Or could the new high school gymnasium be used as a polling place?
We just hope that the county and city will find a better option than the American Legion Annex.