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March 11, 2012

Hanceville legal alcohol sales referendum Tuesday

CULLMAN — Even though Hanceville’s last — and, until Tuesday, its only — wet/dry vote fell on a day when no other issue was up for a vote in Cullman County, the turnout of the city’s 2010 referendum could surpass that of its second one, to be held Tuesday.

Absentee ballots requested for Hanceville’s March 2010 referendum on alcohol sales tallied 69, compared with only 55 absentee requests for Tuesday’s vote. That’s anomalous for a special referendum that falls on the same day as a presidential party primary election, when voter turnout is typically robust.

The absentee tally isn’t always a precise predictor of how many people will show up to the polls on election day; and the figures for Tuesday’s referendum don’t reflect Hanceville voters’ requests for absentee ballots for Tuesday’s primaries. The city’s elections officials and clerk only supervise absentee requests for municipal issues — such as the wet/dry referendum or for mayoral and council elections. The Cullman County circuit clerk’s office handles the rest.

The runup to this year’s wet/dry vote has been more muted than it was in 2010, when a contentious public debate over the issue culminated in a narrow 580-to-548 defeat of legalized sales.

Still, Mayor Kenneth Nail said he hopes the city’s voters participate in large numbers, and not only decide the issue — but decide it, well, decisively.

“The main thing I want to come out of it is this: if people vote it ‘wet,’ I’d rather it be by a good margin; and if people vote it ‘dry,’ I want it to be by a good margin on that side,” said Nail Friday. “I don’t want it to be close either way; I want people to share one sentiment one way or the other, and I want everybody to vote, and the vote to be clear. That’s my hope, anyway. ”

Polls open in Hanceville Tuesday at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. The referendum is open only to residents of the City of Hanceville. The city will operate two polling places — one at the Hanceville City Hall; the other at the Steppville fire station.

* Benjamin Bullard can be reached by e-mail at bbullard@cullmantimes.com or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.

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