Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Macclenny Puts on Show for Election Rain among Few Problems in Duval

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Macclenny Puts on Show for Election Rain among Few Problems in Duval

Article excerpt

It looked as if they were waiting for a parade.

Giddy residents in lawn chairs lined the streets of Macclenny for yesterday's primary elections. Many took the day off to hold campaign signs and hang out by the polls to chat. Mama's Kitchen, a popular eatery, was packed as early as 4:30 a.m.

"It's fun out here in Macclenny on election day," said 18-year-old Shannon Dorman, who held a campaign sign bearing her dad's name, Tom Dorman, Baker County commissioner. "It's a sight to see."

Political intrigue has surrounded Baker County for decades. The area has seen vote-buying allegations, a sheriff charged with growing marijuana and winning candidates who have created mock graves for losers outside the courthouse. This year, a sheriff's candidate has been missing since Aug. 19.

Though the hoopla in Macclenny yesterday was unmatched, voter turnout was better than expected in Duval County as well, election officials said.

The only glitches were rain showers and a voting booth in Avondale that had to be replaced because it was missing the race for congressional District 4, said Robert Phillips, director of operations for Duval elections.

Also, Mary Lou Sutherlin of Riverside complained that her precinct had no ramp and high steps.

"I felt ignored," said Sutherlin, who uses a wheelchair.

Poll workers brought a voting form out to her. Phillips said he was unaware of the problem but would find a new polling place.

"That's the last thing we want to find," he said.

Surrounding counties reported no problems.

Poll workers at a Deerwood precinct mopped puddles around voting booths and held umbrellas for those casting ballots during downpours.

"We've had people come in soaking wet," said poll clerk Phyllis Bauman, who was especially impressed by a dripping man in his 70s who came in with a walker.

It was an interesting day for Bauman, who spent an hour holding a stranger's baby while the child's frantic grandmother waited for a tow truck by her stalled car outside the precinct. …

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