Local elections: behind the scenes

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By Greg Markley
Opelika Observer

 

The late U.S. Sen. Arthur Vandenberg once said that “Partisan politics must stop at the water’s edge.” He meant that in international matters, partisanship must be set aside.

In that vein, partisan politics quickly stops at the edge of the entrance door to the Board of Registrars office, at the Lee County Courthouse.

“When people visit this office and want to talk partisan politics, we have to tell them they can’t campaign here,” said Lee Vanoy of Opelika. She is one of three registrars appointed by Alabama constitutional officers who work with Lee County officials on voting and election issues.

Vanoy was appointed by John McMillan Jr., Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries; Becky Bailey was chosen by State Auditor Samantha “Sam” Shaw; and Leigh Reed was designated by Gov. Robert Bentley. Appointments are for 4-year terms.

The registrars’ office is on the first floor of the courthouse and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. The toll free number is 1-800-239-4469, extension 5; the local number is (334) 737-3635.

“It’s especially hectic on the day of, the day before, and the day after an election,” reflected Bailey, who lives in Opelika. “One reason I do like this position is that I always stay busy doing something.” She added that sometimes last-minute registration applications come in steadily.

Reed, of Auburn, grew up in a politics-friendly household, with her mother serving as registrar for Macon County. Of her registrar role she said: “It’s not a seasonal job, but we do get a certain number of days to work, and then we work for free. It is funny sometimes when we get phone calls from people who call us thinking that we can ‘register’ their boats; those are the strange things that happen.”

Vanoy, also of Opelika, had a keen interest in politics since about age 10. Before becoming a registrar, she was active in local politics, serving as president of the Lee County Republican Club and working to expand the GOP in Alabama. Her son, Van Vanoy, is also in public service, serving as director of finance at the Lee-Russell Council of Governments.

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