Low turnout reported in Alabama primary as voters head to polls

As Alabama voters picked the candidates on Tuesday, it was unclear whether any particular issue was driving the turnout.

It was also clear that there would not be much participation to measure.

Primary voters chose the candidates for statewide positions, including governor, congressional races — notably the U.S. Senate — and legislative and local races.

The attendance for the morning was light. Secretary of State John Merrill estimated early Tuesday afternoon that turnout would be between 28 and 32 percent of registered voters. But he added that polling stations he checked at midday only reported a 10% turnout.

Interviews with a dozen voters Tuesday morning at polling places in Montgomery, Pike Road and Auburn suggested that with few ideological differences among Republican candidates, voters were looking for individual traits and characteristics.

Governor Kay Ivey’s supporters have indicated they appreciate his leadership, especially on education issues. Hannah Remson, a marketing coordinator at Troy University who lives in Pike Road, said she liked Ivey’s support for virtual learning, a program she works with.

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“I just felt like she had my same values ​​and continued to do good in Alabama,” she said.

In contrast, supporters of gubernatorial businessman Tim James have said they want to see Alabama move in a new direction and said they believe James could move that forward. Tom Riello, a teacher from Montgomery, said it was important to him to see political power delegated to the local level and he thought James would do a better job with that.

Roderick Calhoun, cousin of candidate Malcom Calhoun, encourages voters near St. Paul AME Church in Montgomery, Alabama on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

“One of the things that’s important in our leadership is someone who’s willing to move the ball down the pitch and, you know, make things happen in a positive way,” he said. declared. “And my feeling with James is that I think he’s probably more likely to do that (than) Governor Ivey, no meanness to Governor Ivey.”

Voters also seemed more concerned with U.S. Senate candidates as individuals than their positions on particular issues. Casey Rigsby, an Auburn saleswoman who voted for former Business Council of Alabama CEO Katie Britt, said she impressed him during a speech.

“Her journey, her involvement with BCA, and yes, a small-town girl standing up for her values,” he said.

U.S. Representative Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, won and then lost the endorsement of former President Donald Trump last March. But some people who voted for him said they liked his handling of the breach.

“After Trump let go of him, he got up and he didn’t hide,” said Lea Ann Hoogestraat, a retired economic developer who lives in Pike Road. “He didn’t try to speak softly. He has covered everything and he has a good record.

Campaign signs at Beulah Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

Many voters also complained about the harsh tone of political advertising ahead of the primary. Ed Reifenberg, a retired Montgomery accountant, voted for former Books-A-Million chief financial officer Lew Burdette as governor because Burdette focused on state issues and because he was ” tired of all the trashy negativity”.

“Candidates don’t talk about the issues,” he said. “They just talk about each other. I don’t know what the values ​​of Alabama are because no one expresses them.

Democrats are not expected to be competitive in any of the state races this year. On Tuesday morning, voters casting their ballots in the Democratic primary at Vaughn Park Church of Christ in Montgomery focused more on the local school board and State House races. Some said they didn’t vote at the top of the ticket.

Andy Porter, a student, said he voted for Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier, D-Selma, for governor, who he said stood out in a field dominated by political newcomers.

“The only reason I voted for Malika was because of her experience,” he said. “The other candidates, I did not know them.”

Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Brian Lyman at 334-240-0185 or [email protected].

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