Published Online: November 23, 2004
Published in Print: November 24, 2004, as Alabama, Washington State Ready for Recounts

News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

Alabama, Washington State Ready for Recounts

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Alabama officials were expecting to recount ballots this week to determine the fate of a closely watched amendment that would remove obsolete language from the state constitution requiring segregated schools and earmarking poll taxes to support education. ("Taxes Cloud Vote in Ala. Over Race," Nov. 17, 2004.)

Constitutional Question

Voters were asked Nov. 2 to approve Amendment 2, which would repeal the following sections of the Alabama Constitution dealing with school segregation and funding. Some clauses were original to the 1901 document, and others were added in 1956. (Two of these provisions were listed under the wrong headings in last week's issue.)

From original constitution:

"Separate schools shall be provided for white and colored children, and no child of either race shall be permitted to attend a school of the other race."

"All poll taxes collected in this state shall be applied to the support and furtherance of education in the respective counties where collected."

From 1956 changes:

" ... [B]ut nothing in this Constitution shall be construed as creating or recognizing any right to education or training at public expense, nor as limiting the authority and duty of the legislature, in furthering or providing for education, to require or impose conditions or procedures deemed necessary to the preservation of peace and order."

"To avoid confusion and disorder and to promote effective and economical planning for education, the legislature may authorize the parents or guardians of minors, who desire that such minors shall attend schools provided for their own race, to make election to that end, such election to be effective for such period and to such extent as the legislature may provide."

As county officials reported certified results late last week, the “yes” and “no” votes appeared to be within the one-half-of-1-percent margin that would automatically trigger a recount.

Opponents of the proposed Amendment 2 argued that removing a clause saying students aren’t guaranteed a publicly funded education might leave the state vulnerable to a school finance lawsuit and an increase in taxes.

In the initial count of 1.4 million votes cast, the amendment would have failed by 2,500 votes.

Gov. Bob Riley was scheduled to certify the results on Nov. 23, and a recount would be conducted the next day.

Alabama is not the only state with an election recount.

In Washington state, Secretary of State Sam Reed last week ordered a “machine recount” of votes for its next governor—a mandatory step if the winner received a majority of fewer than 2,000 votes.

After all counties certified returns on Nov. 17, Republican Dino Rossi led Democrat Christine Gregoire by 261 votes out of more than 2.7 million cast. The winner of the recount is not likely to be known until after Thanksgiving Day, officials said.

Meanwhile, June Atkinson led Bill Fletcher late last week in the still-unofficial count of ballots in the race to be North Carolina’s next state superintendent of public instruction.

Vol. 24, Issue 13, Page 24

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