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Problems at the Polls in Selma

By Associated Press

Selma AL – Several Selma polls opened late Tuesday morning as stormy weather damaged some machines and poll workers quit as voters tried to cast ballots on a bond issue, city officials said.

Some residents arriving for the vote on a $12.3 million bond issue were asked to man the polls in place of missing poll workers, and Secretary of State Beth Chapman is looking into the incident, The Selma Times-Journal reported on its Web site.

Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. said the city has a total of 17 polls and they were all opened and staffed by 9:30 a.m., more than two hours past the 7 a.m. poll opening time.

He said the machines were being delivered early Tuesday morning when torrential rain from a passing storm began.

"It was the worst time possible for something like that to happen," he said. "Many machines got wet and three machines got dropped. They're computerized machines so it really caused some problems."

Perkins said staffers with the U.S. Department of Justice called him after they received complaints from concerned voters. The mayor said he explained to them that there was a staffing shortage because some poll workers upset about being reassigned to new posts due to damaged machines quit at the last minute.

The irony of Tuesday's voting problems in a landmark city of the voting rights movement wasn't lost on Stephen Brooks, who spoke to the Times-Journal after waiting for nearly an hour to cast his ballot.

"This is Selma, and you can't vote?" Brooks said.

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Information from: Times Journal, http://www.selmatimesjournal.com/

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