Overwhelming voter support helped overturn Tuscaloosa’s Sunday alcohol sales laws on Tuesday.
By way of an 8,519 to 2,462 vote, an unofficial number released around 8:30 p.m., Tuscaloosa voters approved a referendum permitting the sale of alcohol on Sundays between the hours of noon and 9:30 p.m., beginning on March 6.
“I was not surprised with the results,” said Breanna Thackerson, a junior majoring in journalism. “This is predominantly a college town, and passing legislature like this helps boost Tuscaloosa’s economy. I think this is something that people have wanted for quite some time and I am glad that I was able to be a part of this historic event.”
All polling locations opened at 7 a.m., and multiple limousine and van companies escorted voters to and from the different precincts.
Brandon Cole, a junior majoring in Spanish, said the voting process was a pain-free one.
“I moved through the line relatively quick, maybe 10 minutes,” Cole said. “I was actually surprised that it took that long. It looks like there will be a good turnout for the referendum.”
Mark Porter, a sophomore majoring in business, said he thought Tuscaloosa voters would pass the referendum.
“I think it’ll be really good for Tuscaloosa as a whole if they pass it,” Porter said. “It could bring in a lot of extra money from the bars being open on Sundays and restaurants will get more business as well.”
Tuesday’s vote did not go flawlessly, however, as multiple voters were turned away from the Calvary Baptist Annex polling location.
According to Tuscaloosa Registrar Coral Lewis, some of those turned away called the Tuscaloosa Board of Registrars and the Tuscaloosa City Clerk to complain about the issue.
“After we were able to pinpoint the problem, we communicated with Calvary Baptist and let them know that we were getting complaints from those being turned away,” Lewis said. “We told the clerks that they should not be turning anyone away, even if their names were not on the voting list. If that was the case, the voter should be given a provisional ballot and we will look into the matter further.
“We told them to let us figure out why the voter’s names were not on the list and to not turn anyone away anymore.”
Estimated final vote counts from the Calvary location were 1,406, with 75 provisional ballots being cast.
Prior to Tuesday’s vote, Tuscaloosa was the largest city in Alabama that did not permit Sunday alcohol sales.
The last time the issue had been brought up to vote on, 1998, 54 percent of voters said they were not in favor of Sunday sales.
As of Feb. 11, the deadline to register to vote, Tuscaloosa had 67,009 registered voters, 1,104 of which registered in the week preceding the deadline, according to various reports.
By the Numbers
Total Votes: 10,981
Votes at Calvary Baptist: 1,406