Irondale mayor seeks solution for long lines at the polls

Irondale mayor seeks solution for long lines at the polls

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The line of waiting voters stretches outside at the Irondale Senior Center. Source: Vanessa Araiza The line of waiting voters stretches outside at the Irondale Senior Center. Source: Vanessa Araiza
IRONDALE, AL (WBRC) -

The waiting time to vote at the Irondale Senior Center was an estimated three or four hours Tuesday night. The wait was so long that some voters left without voting.

The mayor of Irondale says this issue has to be solved before the next election, and the city will do all it can to fix the problem.

There are 6,700 voters in Irondale city limits. Because of the way house districts in the area are drawn, 5,000 voters have to vote at one polling location--the Senior Center. City leaders say the Senior Center just isn't big enough to accomodate that many people.

Mayor Tommy Joe Alexander says he waited in line for three hours and 15 minutes before he could cast his ballot. By 6 p.m., it was taking folks about 4 hours before they could vote.

At 7 p.m., when the polls officially closed, there were still 1,000 people waiting in a line that streteched a quarter of a mile.

Mayor Alexander says one man passed out while waiting and some pedestrians were almost hit by traffic while waiting.

The good news is that everyone who was in line by 7 p.m. got a chance to vote, but the mayor says he got about 30 emails and phone calls last night and today complaining about the problem, which he called a nightmare.

"I was frustrated, not because people were coming to vote. Some were leaving because of the lines. We need to never let this happen again," Alexander said.

It is up to the Board of Registrars to select polling places in a city.

Barry Stephens, Chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Registrars, says his office is still dealing with post-election issues right now.

But next week, once that is over, he says he will go and talk with Irondale city leaders and figure out a second polling location so that this is fixed by the next election: the governor's race in 2014.

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