Mayoral Candidates Discuss Voting District Problems

9:52 AM, Sep 12, 2013   |    comments
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The seven candidates seeking the mayor's office in the new consolidated government met Wednesday with students at Middle Georgia State College to encourage young voters.

All seven - Joe Allen, Charlie Bishop, David Cousino, Jack Ellis, Sam Hart, Anthony Harris and Robert Reichert - also commented on how confusion over voting districts would impact Tuesday's election.

"I think we've gotten most of it squared away," said Allen. "I've already talked with the elections board. There's going to be some hiccups. Anytime you do with a major change like you've got or have done right now, bring everything together with the districts, and alright now, not knowing until the last minute, you know there's going to be some problems."

Bishop said the confusion has hurt early voting, which has been going on the last three weeks.

"I think it's hurting the turnout already for the fact that they're having to get there and explaining the ballot," Bishop said. "I've had a lot of people that I've sent to vote early, and they tell me they get over there and they have to wait about 45 minutes, and there's no line because they have to sit there and find out what district they're in."

But Cousino thinks otherwise.

"I think it should actually encourage the turnout for Tuesday, and the main thing is, if you go in today or Friday, if you don't see the person's name on that ballot that you want to vote for, don't vote. Put your hand up in the air and say, 'I have a problem.'"

Ellis sees possible problems.

"It could. We hope that it won't. Number one, let me go on record, I'm an advocate for every vote being counted, period," Ellis said. "However, we understand there's some 36 to 40 not given the right district. Now, do we hold up the entire election because of that, I say no."

Harris thinks the confusion's bound to cause problems.

"I think what's going to happen is regardless of how quick they fix it, to clean it up, when it comes to a commission race, you're going to have outcries of 'I want a recount. I want a recount.' We already know that's going to happen," Harris said.

Hart hopes the problem been solved.

"I certainly hope not," Hart said. "I hope we've gotten on top of that one. I was watching what they are currently doing, looking and verifying that people were in the right district. It certainly slowed it down, but I hope it has not hurt the credibility of the process."

Reichert believes there could be problems.

"If it dampens early turnout, it may dampen overall turnout," he said. "We're hopeful that people have faith and confidence and go to the map and find out where they are and find out who the candidates are who are running in that district. Then, if they go and get a ballot with candidates who are not on the ballot, then bring it to the attention of the elected officials before they cast their ballots."

The seven mayoral candidates meet in Tuesday's election. Nine commission district candidates are vying for seats in the new government as well.


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