Turnout sluggish but good

Published 11:54 pm Tuesday, July 5, 2011

By Alison McFerrin

The Selma Times-Journal

Tuesday’s special election to fill an open seat on the Selma City Council began in the sunshine, ended in the rain and in between saw nearly 39 percent of the registered voters turn out to cast a ballot.

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Although a strong number for a runoff election in a single city council race, some felt the timing of the runoff and weather prevented an even higher turnout.

“The first week in July — as long as I can remember, that’s vacation time,” said poll worker Jean T. Martin. “Sometimes a year ahead they have reservations made and planned ahead.

“So I think that accounts for a smaller turnout.”

Poll worker Jacque Johnson at Christian Outreach Alliance also cited the holidays as the reason for low turnout, but she said she hoped more people would come throughout the afternoon.

“I hope they’re coming out and we’ll make a big rush here at the finish,” Johnson said. “I think our total votes, between the absentee and who shows up, I think that will be the same as the last election.”

Johnson’s prediction wasn’t that far off.

The general election, May 24, saw 721 voters cast a ballot at the polls or through the absentee ballot process. Tuesday, 778 ballots were cast, with 232 of those coming through absentee votes.

For Greg Bjelke, who won Tuesday’s runoff, earning the Ward 3 seat on the city council, the dedication some voters showed in getting to the polls was inspiring.

“I saw one lady catch a taxi cab to come out. It was just humbling,” Bjelke said. “They made it extra special.”

At the Dallas County Courthouse, 169 votes were cast, while 377 ballots were marked at the Christian Outreach Alliance.