Voting Precinct Goes Dark Briefly

By: Tametria Conner Email
By: Tametria Conner Email

On this busy election day, the last thing Lauderdale County Courthouse officials were thinking about was a power outage. But one happened anyway.

However, voting continued and officials say it even increased after the outage.

"It's been going really well. I think, for this precinct, the turnout is good and we've had lines waiting at times," said precinct manager Carolyn Starnes. And we're glad to see the good turnout."

The cause of the outage, which also affected several city blocks from the MSU Riley Center to Rush Hospital, is in question. Some people said they heard it was due to construction on 5th Street.

The power was out for about 20 minutes, but Circuit Clerk Donna Jill Johnson said it felt like an eternity.

"Of course with an election going on, we automatically went into a jerk and then when it stayed off longer than a couple of minutes then we got worried," Johnson said. "The fortunate thing about the new touch-screen voting machines is they have a back-up battery. And I believe the batteries will allow four hours of continuous voting, and by then you have somebody rescuing the situation if it turns into something major."

Fortunately it didn't turn into anything major and it was smooth sailing for the rest of the day.

"Everything went smoothly in here," said Johnson. "We had computers that were on backup battery, so we were able to help the poll workers and the voting public. We didn't miss a beat."

Some voters did have to vote in the dark, but Johnson said they had the sunlight beaming through the door and windows to help them see.

The outage also caused a county employee to be trapped in an elevator at the County Annex Building across the street from the courthouse.

County administrator Tony Green was between the sixth and seventh floors when power was lost. He called for help on his cell phone and a maintenance crew was able to pull him out.

"There was an incline where I had to step down out of the elevator, that was about three to four feet high. I had to jump down to the vacant floor," said Green.

Green was not injured but says this will be an experience he will never forget.

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