June 17, 2013 Rotogram: 45

GTR Airport

Rotarian Mike Hainsey, Golden Triangle Regional Airport director, updates us on the area’s 42-year-old transportation center. Stuart Vance will introduce him.

Next Week: Washington Report

U.S. Rep. Greg Harper, reports from Congress and about current happenings around the nation’s Capitol.

For the Record—June 10

Invocation and Pledge:        John Forde

Attendance:                                   45.53%

Present — 88 (32 exempt)

Absent — 90 (14 exempt, 11 honorary)

Makeup reported: Dennis Truax

Guests: Member guests were Archie Anderson of Mike Cayson, Diane Jackson of Gary Jackson, John Guyton of Mark Guyton, and Paula Lasell of Don Lasell.

Meeting Notes

  • President Debra presented Edward Yates with the Club’s support check for the Father’s Child Ministry. He noted that the ministry is in its tenth year of helping young people missing a father.
  • She gave a shout out to Jeff Donald for the recognition of his work with veterans in the Starkville Daily News’ Spirit of Oktibbeha feature.
  • The new club directory is available. “It may not be pretty, but it works,” announced President Debra.
  • Vice President-elect Michelle Amos greeted visitors in Vice President Brent’s absence. He will be gone again next week as he represents the club at the Rotary International convention in Lisbon, Portugal.

Proposed New Member

Archie Anderson, regional credit officer at Cadence Bank, has been proposed for membership with the classification of banking. He is sponsored by Mike Cayson.

Youth Exchange Needs Hosts

We need host families for our new RYE student, who arrives around August 1 for her year with us. The 16-year-old girl is sponsored by the Emmerich-Rees Rotary Club (D 1870).

Please suggest potential host families to Keith or Debra so they can make contacts.

Club Web Site

The correct address for our Web site is starkvillerotary.org. We have had some confusion because of problems with the .com site.

Starkville 2013 Polls: The Perfect Storm for Election Challenges

June 10 — Starkville’s latest round of municipal elections ran into what City Clerk Taylor Adams termed the perfect storm to spawn voting difficulties.

Introducing Adams, Dave Boles said, “I worked both the primary and general election. It’s real interesting to bring together a group of people to work for only one day. It’s fun, but hectic.”

In his first year as clerk and director of finance, Adams had to manage the first election under Starkville’s most complex redistricting ever.

He explained that it all started with the law suit that successfully challenged the city’s alderman-at-large seat in 2009. The suit settlement did away with the seat and required that two wards always will have a two-thirds minority population.

Additionally, the other five cannot vary more than plus or minus ten percent in total population.

“We started working on the redistricting in August, and the Department of Justice approved it on December 29,” Adams said.

“We had a good idea of what the new ward lines would look like,” he said. “But, in January we checked and saw about 4,500 families would be voting in a different place than every election preceding this one.”

The biggest issue was getting people to the right polling places. To deal with it, the city contracted with the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District to develop GIS maps.

The district’s Toby Sanford and all of Rudy Johnson’s staff were very involved.

When the maps were complete, the five member election commission deployed to verify every address. From there, the information went to the circuit clerk’s office to be loaded into the voting system.

In the county, there is one person with one backup who had to load every change.

“Let’s that if we were 99 percent accurate, we would have nearly 50 people voting in the wrong place,” he said. “The highest turnout on record is 4,300 voters in a municipal election.”

The result was a significant number of affidavit ballots.

Wards one and three usually have huge turnouts that now are spread over all wards.

“If you live off of South Montgomery in Timber Cove or Pleasant Acres, we heard when you called,” said Adams. “And, we realize that’s a great inconvenience.”

The redistricting had to honor census blocks, but could not split neighborhoods. Only one street in town actually is split.

“The Department of Justice allows four iterations of proposed districts,” he said. “We actually got it on 4a.”

Adams felt that mechanically everything went well given the six week window for implementation. His office did have to deal with 1,600 undeliverable new voter cards that were returned.

The political parties are ultimately responsible for elections, but the city provides the mechanics. At this point, this year’s election cost is just less than $40,000.

Ideally, parties should underwrite elections, but if one cannot afford it, the city has to step in. Then the other party needs to be treated equally resulting in the city’s footing the bill.

 

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