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Election 2012: Voter turnout in Shelby close to 70 percent

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Clerk’s prediction right on mark

By Lisa King

Election officials in Shelby did not miss a voter turnout prediction by much, having predicted that 70 percent of voters would show up at the polls on Tuesday.

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Shelby County Clerk Sue Carole Perry reported a final tally of 18,791 people voted, for a 67 percent turnout of the county’s 28,231 registered voters.

Perry said last week she was expecting a very high turnout from Shelby County’s 28,231 registered voters, based on the large numbers of absentee ballots her office had received, reaching nearly 700, compared to last election’s 166.

Despite the large numbers of people heading out to the polls, things went smoothly for the most part, she said, as the weather cooperated, dawning cold but sunny.

Perry said the morning began a bit rough around the edges, as she had a few problems getting some polling places up and running due to a shortage of election officers to work at the precincts, something that has been a problem in the past, said County Clerk Sue Carole Perry.

"We had a hard time getting open because some precinct officers didn’t show up, you know, the usual thing," she said. "I prayed real hard last night and this morning both that everything would go well."

Perry said one voting machine, an eSlate model, went down at Persimmon Ridge, the same precinct, F-106, where an eScan machine broke down in the Primary Election in May. The technical problem with that machine was taken care of quickly, she said, adding she wished she could say the same for the biggest gliche of the day.

"The main thing today is the phone ringing off the wall for all these people that didn’t change their address," she said. "If they show up somewhere to vote, and their name’s not on the book, then they call our office and we check to see if they are registered in Shelby County, and if they are registered, we have to verify their address, and they have to go vote where ever they live, if they’re registered in Shelby County."

Perry said she didn't know what many people called in with that problem, but it was a considerable number. She said the worst thing about it was that it could have been easily prevented.

"You have to live in a precinct 30 days to vote. It says on your driver’s license, that when you move, within ten days, you’re supposed to change your address, and people don’t do that," she said. "And some of them, when they go to get their driver’s license, when they ask them if they want to register to vote, some of them say no and its says in the computer, they declined. And then they want to argue with you."

Lolita Wilson, precinct officer in Bagdad, said the crowd was larger there as well.

"This is my fifth year working at the polls and it's a much better turnout than we had last time," she said.