Let's clean out the notebook ...
• I have to share Carbon Hill Mayor April Kennedy Herron's frustration over the Little League reaction concerning the Blue Gym. Apparently the city went ahead and changed the locks on the facility, where there are renovations, plumbing and wiring problems and just an unsafe atmosphere for kids.
But the Little League was still using it for practice and were upset they were locked out. Herron said she doesn't have a key, but everyone else in town has one, and yet no one accepts responsibility for problems in the bathroom and elsewhere. She said if the Little League will be patient, they can have a nice facility by the time basketball rolls around.
Several of the members were not patient. They kept saying they needed the gym to practice in the rain. Herron said she could remember as a youth when kids practiced in the rain until he was dangerous, and then they went home. That sounds sensible to me.
Someone later said that there is a communication problem between the city and the Little League. But it was said in February that the key situation would have to be worked on, and surely no one should have children in there with all the work and the problems going on. I would think the great outdoors is enough, and if there is lightning, go home. Baseball is like that.
I think the city is making a good faith effort to get the Blue Gym repaired, once and for all. I would hate for children to be running around while that work is going on. I would do as much of the essential work as quickly as possible, and maybe any cosmetic phases could wait until next summer. But if it can be done now, do it. And if anyone is a licensed electrician, the mayor needs to see you ASAP.
However, what gets me is this: Why are the kids practicing in the middle of a pandemic? I know about high school and college students playing - don't get me started - but I would think you would hold off this summer for little kids. But how silly can I be; we can't even wait for the gym to be renovated.
• I also was approached about supposed problems in a local municipal election. I made a two-day effort to try to find some confirmation but didn't get very far, and sometimes got other questions raised. I'm not going to assign blame on either direction. Allegations are likely to be turned in to the Secretary of State's Office, but it could be difficult for them to sort out, too. Sometimes that is the frustrating thing about reporting, leaving you with questions you can't answer, but in the end, it could be it is not true and it could be no one wanted to talk, or others had a different recollection. Who knows?
But - as a bit of precaution, so we are allllllllll on the same page - I do want to make sure that others know some things that are clear to everyone, especially as we still have a General Election on Nov. 3:
1. You can file a provisional vote. Provisional votes are to be accepted in state, federal, county and municipal elections, and referendums. The voter will have to sign an affidavit attesting to eligibility to vote and complete a voter update form. If you don't have a photo voter ID at the polls and cannot be identified by two election officials, you have until 5 p.m. of the following Friday to submit the correct ID to the Board of Registrars.
Of course, if you are not on the poll list, the Alabama Voter Guide notes the poll worker is to call the Board of Registrars to determine if the person is eligible to vote at that polling site. "If the Board of Registrars is unable to verify the person's voter registration, he or she may vote a provisional ballot," it says. One may also cast a provisional ballot if they didn't receive a requested absentee ballot or the voter did not vote on the absentee ballot.
At the same time, one should make sure that if you move, you need to immediately change your voter registration to reflect your correct residence, before you forget it later. That can be done at the Board of Registrars or you can download the form or do it online at www.alabamavotes.gov. If one is unsure of his or her status, they can check with those two same resources.
2. You can get assistance at the polls. First, effective in 2015, a polling official may allow a voter who is physically disabled or over age 70 to move to the front of the line at a polling place upon request of the voter. Secondly, you may ask other people to help you - even a candidate. According to the Alabama Voter Guide, "The only people who cannot assist a voter are the voter's employer, an agent of the voter's employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union."
3. If there is a problem with a machine, the poll workers or the clerk needs to call the probate judge. The machines belong to the county (although by Nov. 3 they will be leased by the county). If there are problems, you call the probate judge, and, if need be, a machine can be switched out or someone from ES&S in Birmingham can come look at it.
I would offer this last piece of advice. More needs to be done to make sure that municipal election officials are trained in connection with the voting machines and procedures, as a precaution, as they only have elections every four years, which is a long time. (Granted, some poll workers may serve in other elections as well.) I think Probate Judge A. Lee Tucker would be open minded at ways to look at that.
For the layman, I again would encourage you to download the latest Alabama Voters Guide - it is a quick read as a booklet - or ask for a copy from various election officials, if they have print copies. One may also ask questions from the Secretary of State's Office on election matters at 1-334-242-7210. You may also find a wealth of election materials - including applications for absentee voting or voter registration - at alabamavotes.gov.