It’s really about the voters

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 13, 2006

There’s an episode of “The Andy Griffin Show” where Andy goes to the mayor’s house early in the morning to discuss a personal matter.

He wakes the mayor, who is aggravated he’s been disturbed until Andy says, “It’s about a voter.”

Then the mayor changes his tune and hurries downstairs.

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Of course, it’s just a sitcom, but the reality is many politicians seem to have forgotten that it’s really about the voters.

Even our political system in general in Alabama leaves much to be desired in allowing true free and open elections.

Third parties have an incredibly difficult time getting on the ballot in this state.

Our two-party system has virtually ensured who will get into office well before the general election in November. In essence, it’s crippled the free and open election process, causing citizens to wonder if their vote really matters.

During the June 6 primary, an Independent voter in Wilcox County tried to cast a ballot on the amendments. He needed a non-partisan ballot in order to do that.

According to an attorney at the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, there should have been three ballots available – one for the Democratic primary, one for the Republican primary, and one for non-partisan voters on just the amendments.

No such non-partisan ballot was available in Wilcox County.

According to the representative from the secretary of state’s office, it’s up to the probate judge in each county to print the ballots and make them available.

This voter was told he could take a Democratic or Republican primary ballot and just vote on the amendments. But in doing so he would be declaring himself to be affiliated with that party. Something he was not willing to do.

Is this a free and open election?

Since moving here from Baldwin County, I’ve seen a huge difference in the way our state government, and candidates, treat the Black Belt counties as compared to other counties in the state.

This area of the state is virtually ignored. Of course, I’m not telling longtime residents anything they don’t already know, but it seems to be an accepted reality that is absolutely unacceptable.

George Wallace Jr. – a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor – did make a stop in Selma Tuesday night.

I’m not saying who I’d vote for one way or the other, but any candidate who takes the time to come to this area and talk with local residents about our issues certainly has my attention.

So few of the candidates do that.

If anything should remind us of the importance of each and every vote, it’s the 2000 presidential election. A few hundred votes made the difference in who ended up in the White House.

Like the fictional mayor of Mayberry, real-life politicians must realize that each voter does matter.

Tammy Leytham is editor of The Times-Journal.