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Areas in Alabama stay dry while others go wet following Nov. 6 electionscomment (0)

November 15, 2012

By Julie Payne

In addition to voting for the U.S. president and a host of other offices and amendments Nov. 6, some areas of Alabama had an extra question on their ballot: whether or not to legalize alcohol sales. 

Voters in Hartselle and Blount County managed to keep their areas dry, while Randolph County, Rogersville, Boaz and Priceville all voted to go wet.

These were the areas known at press time with wet/dry elections Nov. 6.

Randolph County voted to legalize alcohol sales by almost 800 votes, according to a report by The Anniston Star. 

“It was a very disappointing loss and we campaigned very hard,” said Clayton Scott, director of missions for Randolph Baptist Association, who is also in charge of publicity for Citizens of Truth, a group encouraging Randolph County voters to vote against legalizing alcohol sales. “I went to bed Monday night pretty well confident that we were going to succeed again.” 

Scott believes one problem was that the question was located on the back of the ballot underneath the other amendments and that some voters may have not even paid attention to it. 

Wet opponents in Boaz also battled hard, but the wet votes still prevailed. According to unofficial results reported by the Sand Mountain Reporter, more than 2,800 Boaz residents cast ballots for the referendum, with the wet side winning by 156 votes.

However, some wet opponents have contested the election, said Randall Stoner, director of missions for Marshall Baptist Association. He said some voters feel the issue should not have been placed on the ballot at all. This is because the petition to allow the referendum on the ballot had forged signatures, according to claims from voters cited in the Sand Mountain Reporter. Some Boaz residents have since contacted the attorney general’s office about the controversy to attempt to have the decision overturned, according to a report in the Sand Mountain Reporter. 

The town of Rogersville also voted to go wet. WHNT News 19 reported that election results showed 290 people voted in favor of legalizing alcohol sales while 213 voted against it. 

Meanwhile, Hartselle remains Alabama’s largest dry city in the state. According to an al.com news report, the vote there was 3,478 to 3,066. 

Donnell Brown, director of missions for Morgan Baptist Association, said the organization Families for a Safe Hartselle that encouraged voters to “vote no” included people from the area churches. He said the churches in the city worked together months ahead of the vote. “We won the vote [and] I was happy about that,” Brown said. He added that while the margin was “pretty close,” it also was “pretty impressive.” 

Despite the big win for wet opponents in Hartselle the city’s neighbor municipality of Priceville voted to go wet. “We were hoping to win that one, too, but [we are] glad we won this one [in Hartselle],” Brown noted. 

He said he is thankful that churches across denominational lines worked together for a common goal, and he is pleased that it was a “collective effort” of folks working together.

Blount County wet opponents also had something to celebrate with 11,587 “no” votes to 11,427 “yes” votes, according to an al.com report that noted the county website had reported 27 of its 28 precincts.

This was the second time in four years the wet/dry issue has come up for a vote in Blount County. In 2008 those advocating to go wet in the county were defeated by a percentage margin of 60–40. This time around it was different, with less than 200 votes separating the two sides. But despite the narrow victory, wet opponents like the 501(c)(4) group Keep Blount County Special were elated at the outcome. 

“It was a very close vote and we knew it would be a close vote,” said Larry Gipson, pastor of First Baptist Church, Oneonta, and chairman of Keep Blount County Special. 

“We are excited … about the fact it (the measure) failed,” he added, noting that one future goal will be to work with Alabama Citizens Action Program to educate area students about the dangers of alcohol. 

“We will continue to do what we feel led to do and stand on our convictions,” Gipson concluded.

In related news, voters in Dallas County legalized Sunday alcohol sales. According to the Selma Times-Journal, just over 65 percent of votes were cast in support of the Sunday sales. 

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