Bobby Coleman (File photo)
ALBANY — There are enough registered voters in Albany’s Ward II — 5,550 to be exact — to keep poll workers and Elections officials jumping during today’s Albany City Commission runoff election.
The challenge candidates Ivey Hines, the ward’s incumbent, and Bobby Coleman face as they seek enough votes to earn a four-year term on the commission is just how many of those voters they can entice to go to one of Ward II’s five precincts and cast ballots on behalf of their campaign.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people who said they plan to vote for me,” Hines, a minister and an IT specialist at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, said on the eve of the election. “But there are a couple of things about that. First is whether they truly intended to vote for me or whether they were telling me what I wanted to hear. The second thing is, if they actually do plan to vote for me, will they get up and go to the polls?”
Only 642 voters — slightly less than 12 percent of those in the ward — cast ballots in the Nov. 5 municipal election that set the stage for today’s runoff. Hines got 295 of those votes, Coleman 274 and the race’s third candidate, Demetrius Love, 72.
“I’d be surprised if there were 300 votes cast (in the runoff),” Hines said.
If early voting is any indication, Hines’ projection may actually be high. Officials in the Elections office said Monday morning only 26 voters had cast ballots during the five-day early voting period that closed Wednesday of last week. The office mailed out 71 absentee ballots.
The early/absentee vote total (116) during the municipal election played a huge part in Hines claiming a 21-vote victory. The incumbent commissioner scored 69 of those votes to Coleman’s 37 and Love’s 10 to erase a slight deficit. The absentee balloting became a campaign issue when Coleman accused someone who opposes his candidacy of “assisting” absentee voters and marking their ballot for Hines, even though they’d been instructed to cast ballots for Coleman.
Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said Monday she’d been apprised of the complaint and had suggested Coleman take his concerns to the secretary of state’s office.
“Our office spoke with the candidate (Coleman) and suggested that he contact the secretary of state’s office to investigate,” Nickerson said. “We made it clear that there needed to be a witness to any such illegal activity and told (Coleman) that the secretary of state would investigate any such legitimate complaints.
“He told us he didn’t want to take the matter that far.”
Coleman, a medical transport specialist, said he plans to “monitor” today’s vote to see if there are similar concerns.
“I’m not ready at this time to make a complaint (to the secretary of state’s office),” he said Monday. “But I plan to monitor this situation, keep up with the absentee ballots that I should get. It’s sad that this type of thing happens to mar a local election.”
Coleman said he’s satisfied with the effort he’s made in his first campaign as a candidate.
“I feel good about everything,” he said. “It feels great to know that, as we come to the end of this campaign, I’ve given it everything I have. I’ve given 100 percent.”
Polls at the Palmyra Road Methodist Church (Precinct 1), Sherwood Elementary School (2), Phoebe Education Building (15), Jackson Heights Elementary (17) and Albany Middle School (24) precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.