The voter registration deadline is drawing near for the Smithville Municipal Election.
Lisa Peterson, DeKalb County Administrator of Elections says the deadline for registering as a city voter is Monday, May 19th and since the first of the year, voter registration in the city has been up. “As always, when there is a contested race, there is a little bit more interest. Registrations are up, both for residential registrations and also property rights voters. As of today (Friday) we have 3,188 registered voters in the city of Smithville, up by 102 since January. We also have about 130 registered property rights voters, up by 22 since the first of the year so people are interested in the issues and are registering. I encourage them to come out and vote.”
Peterson says May 19th is the deadline for new registrations. "That's voters who have never been registered to vote anywhere in DeKalb County. Others have up until election day to change their address if they are already registered in DeKalb County and moved inside the city limits. I encourage them to go ahead an update their registrations if that’s the case because they will be required on election day to fill out a change of address form if they have not already taken care of that.”
Peterson says May 19th is also the deadline to register as a property rights voter. “The term 'property rights voter’ applies to those people that live inside DeKalb County but outside the city limits and yet they own property inside the city limits. The Smithville Charter does allow property rights voting. It does have a (city property) size requirement of at least 7,500 square feet. I’d like to remind people that we don’t automatically know who owns property inside the city limits. Some people think we have a massive computer system and automatically know who registers a deed, but the offices in the courthouse are not linked like that.”
“They (property rights voters) are required to bring us proof of ownership, such as a deed or a current tax notification. Only two persons per property may register as property rights voters. In other words, if four people own the property, only two out of that four can register as a property rights voter. So they’re going to have to decide among themselves who they want to be able to register and vote the property rights.”
A mayor and two aldermen will be elected on Tuesday, June 17th.
Candidates for mayor are Incumbent Taft Hendrixson and challenger Faye Fuqua.
Aldermen contenders are incumbents Steven White and Cecil Burger and challengers Danny Washer and Alford Webber.
According to Peterson, city candidates have been active this year in getting more people registered. “Candidates have been canvassing the neighborhoods. Many people enjoy meeting the candidates. However, keep in mind we’re living in different times now and some people may not want the candidates to come into their homes. I’ve had a few calls where people have expressed to me that they felt pressured to register to vote or to let the candidates in. I’d just like to remind the candidates to be respectful of their wishes and realize that some people may not want them to enter their homes, especially those who may be vulnerable such as the elderly.
Meanwhile, the dates for early voting have been set for the Smithville election. Voting will be held Mondays through Saturdays, May 28th through June 12th in the basement courtroom of the courthouse. Voting hours will be Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.
Peterson says early voting hours have been extended during this election to better accommodate the voters. “We have had some requests from people to extend our voting hours. We are always interested in the voters comments and suggestions so we’re going to try to do that for this election. Usually we have one late afternoon every Thursday from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.. During this early voting period we’ll have two late afternoons of early voting. That’ll be every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.. The other days during the week, voting will be from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
On election day, the polls will be open from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. also in the basement of the courthouse.
Two Micro Vote Infinity machines will be used during early voting. Two machines will also be used on election day.
Peterson reminds candidates that the election commission will enforce the 100 foot boundary during early voting and on election day. Candidates will not be permitted within the 100 foot boundary. “There will be a 100 foot boundary enforced from all entrances of the courthouse, not just the basement entrance. That is what the election law states and that is what we will be following. We had so many positive comments from the last election. The voters really showed a big support for the election commission’s decision to enforce that boundary. From the basement entrance, the 100 foot boundary would actually end in the middle of the street. Of course we can’t have candidates standing in the middle of the street so the boundary is extended to the other side of the street.”
Peterson urges voters to study a sample ballot before election day. “People may want to keep an eye out for the local papers. There will be a sample ballot published before long. We also have a website. It is dekalbelections.com and there are sample ballots published there as well as other information. I encourage people to become informed and find out about the candidates and the issues and then turn out and vote. Again, we would like a good turn out.”