Petitions about alcohol on the ballot cause questionsBy PAT BROWN,
O ne of the most discussed topics as of late has been that related to having a petition to have liquor sales on the ballot this coming November.
There have been accusations that getting signatures certified at the last minute was a ploy to defeat the initiative.
The paper has monitored the process along the way, and Friday afternoon we made a trip to the Circuit Clerk’s office to observe the process. Kathy Brien and Darlene Therell were diligently working to count and cross-reference the names on the petition with the voter rolls.
Both of these ladies were kind enough to answer questions as well as to show why some signatures were called into question. Based on what we were able to see, and that was all of the petitions, there was not a reason to question their work.
Many of the signatures were not legible and the printed name in some cases could not be matched with an address. The process that was used was e-verify to cross check names. A total of 1,910 signatures were submitted and of that 1,314 were certified. So it is evident from the numbers alone that there was not an effort to sway the election process. Had that been the case they easily could have called a lot of the other names into question. According to Circuit Clerk Steve Womack, in some cases it took up to 10 minutes to verify a signature. This is part of the reason that it took as long as it did to certify all the signatures on the petition as required.
Therell said that in some circumstances names are purged from the voter roll by the Election Commission if someone does not vote in the period of two presidential elections and the other elections between. The reason is that sometimes people die or move and their names are dropped from the rolls. She did, however, say that if the name was verified on a non-active voter from the petition, they were returned to the active roll and also counted.
So that begs the question of where the liquor vote stands now. There are some options out there. The most likely is that signatures will continue to be collected and the issue will surface on the next general election.
The current signatures are good and are banked until the initiative is scheduled for a vote. Another option and probably less likely is that signatures could be turned in to the Board of Supervisors. If they get the proper number of signatures a special election could be called. However, because of the cost, estimated at $27.000 for a countywide general election, it would most likely be held until the next general election scheduled for November 2019.
Either way, then it would be up to the voters to decide whether the county could or would sell alcoholic beverages. Alcohol was once legal in the county and was voted out, but beer was made legal.