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Monday, September 16, 2013 - 10:00am

Macon-Bibb Election Underway

Polls opened in Macon and Bibb County Tuesday at 7 a.m. as voters pick their first ever city-county commission and mayor.

This will be the first local election since voters in the city and county passed a consolidation referendum last August.

Early voting ahead of the Tuesday election was plagued with errors. Poll workers at the Bibb County Board of Elections headquarters mistakenly led at least 90 people to vote in the wrong commission district.

Election supervisor Jeanetta Watson says similar problems will be impossible Tuseday as voters head to their local polling places.

"Each poll, each precinct, their express poll unit -- which is used to research which voters are in their district -- those units are only programed to look up those voters that are in that precinct," Watson said.

That means if you show up to your precinct and they don't have your name on file, you're voting in the wrong place, she said. Voters can get help figuring out their precinct and commission district by calling the Board of Elections office at 478-621-6622.

Watson answers to the Board of Elections, and it was board members who decided to proceed with Tuesday's election despite the problems with voting maps during early voting.

Several candidates along with The Telegraph editorial board urged officials to halt early voting until the situation was resolved to everyone's satisfaction. "[To do so] really would have required re-setting the election date," said election board member Steve Allen, adding that staging another election would come at great expense to taxpayers.

The 90 people who voted for the wrong commission candidates because polls workers gave them the wrong ballot are spread across Macon-Bibb, Allen said, and not concentrated in any one district.

"Unless one of the elections is decided by, you know, 15 votes or so, this should not be a factor," Allen said. There are some close races, he said, and candidates might challenge the results of the election after Tuesday, "and they have every right to do so."

"I am assured by the people in charge that things are going to go smoothly, and I want to make sure that, you know, the citizens of Bibb County have confidence in their election system," Allen said.