By Benjamin Bullard
The Cullman Times
Next week’s primary election to determine a Republican candidate for the open Alabama House District 11 seat has drawn a lot of interest from residents throughout Cullman County.
On more than one occasion, residents of areas outside District 11 have been overheard pledging their intent to vote for one candidate or another in the District 11 race.
The four Republicans — and one Democrat — seeking to fill former Rep. Jeremy Oden’s vacant District 11 seat surely appreciate that kind of support. But there’s just one problem: a lot of Cullman County residents who’d like to cast a ballot on Feb. 12 won’t be able to. They don’t live in District 11.
When it comes to elected representation in the Alabama House, Cullman County is divided into three parts, each of which is represented by a single individual in the Legislature. The county is presently represented by delegates elected in House Districts 9, 11 and 12.
Residents of District 11 are the only local voters who’ll be able to participate in next Tuesday’s Republican primary. If you live in east Cullman County, or east of U.S. Highway 31 or north of Alabama Highway 157 in the City of Cullman, you’re likely eligible to vote in the primary — as well as in the special general election — until a winner in the race has been decided.
According to Cullman County probate judge Tammy Brown, most of the confusion has arisen from residents who vote at one of the four designated polling places inside the City of Cullman. That’s because those four precincts will be ‘split’ for the District 11 race.
“There will be a total of 20 beat boxes in the District 11 race, but the only boxes that are going to be affected by lying inside a split precinct are at the Cullman Civic Center, the County Office Building basement, Cullman City Hall and the Courthouse conference room,” Brown explained. “Those are the four boxes that are ‘split‘ — they are polling places for people who live in both District 11 and in District 12. In this special election, only those people who live in District 11 may vote.”
In other words, some east city voters are eligible to take part in the District 11 vote, while others on the west side will have to wait until the District 12 seat comes up for reelection in November 2014.
“If anyone has a question about whether they live in District 11 or District 12, or if they have a question about whether they’ll be able to vote in the Feb. 12 specially called primary election, they may be able to save themselves a lot of trouble on election day by first calling the Cullman County Board of Registrars and finding out whether they’re eligible to participate,” said Brown. “If people will do that, I’m hopeful there won’t be many cases where someone shows up at a polling place next week, only to be told they aren’t allowed to vote in this race.
“Putting myself in the voters’ position, I would want to find out that kind of information ahead of time and potentially save myself a lot of trouble and frustration,” she added. “My office, or the Board of Registrars, will be happy to assist with any questions from now up through election day. People can even call throughout election day to find out where, and whether, they can vote.”
Contact the Cullman County Board of Registrars by calling 256-739-3530 or 256-775-4697, or stop by the board office on the first floor of the Cullman County Courthouse.