• 55°

Low voter turnout reported in Dallas County for runoff

Mike Jung reads a book while working at the Memorial Stadium polling station Tuesday. The runoff election suffered from low  voter turnout.

Mike Jung reads a book while working at the Memorial Stadium polling station Tuesday. The runoff election suffered from low voter turnout.

By Christopher Edmunds
The Selma Times-Journal

Poll workers throughout Dallas County had plenty of time to read and complete crossword puzzles due to extremely low voter turnout for Tuesday’s runoff election.

Out of 31,162 registered voters in Dallas County, only 597 people voted.

Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard said the lack of interest was striking.

“We wound up with 1.92 percent turnout, and that’s deplorable for any election, especially when you consider on a statewide basis, more than $3 million was spent to have this election,” Ballard said. “It was very quiet. We had to pick up the phone just to see if it was working, and usually during elections you answer the phone all day.”

Three races appeared on Republican ballots Tuesday, as well as a constitutional amendment regarding the cotton industry. There were no Democratic races to be decided Tuesday, but voters could still vote on the cotton amendment.

Ballard said Dallas County’s lack of Republican interest contributed to the dismal turnout.

“From a democratic side, we had no candidates,” Ballard said. “Dallas County voters are vastly Democrat. The statewide interest in the secretary of state, state auditor and public service commission just didn’t interest a lot of people in Dallas County.”

The cotton amendment received the most interest at the polls, with 463 Dallas County voters saying yes to the amendment.

Statewide, the amendment, which extends the cotton check-off program to use cotton producer money for marketing and research, was approved.

“The cotton amendment, which looks like it passed with a huge majority in Dallas County, had a good bit of interest because of the large farming community in Dallas County,” Ballard said.

In the Republican races, challenger Chris “Chip” Beeker Jr. upset incumbent Terry Dunn for the Republican nomination for Place 2 on the Alabama Public Service Commission, Mobile attorney Jim Zeigler won the Republican nomination for state auditor over retired Hoover businessman Dale Peterson, and John Merrill defeated Reese McKinney for the Republican nomination for Secretary of State was undecided.

Ballard said besides a temporary power outage forcing one location to start later, no major problems were reported at the polling places.

Two polling locations tied for the record-low number of votes cast. At both the Selma Mall and Selmont Water Works locations, only 3 ballots were cast.

Mike Jung worked at the Memorial Stadium location from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Even though his station saw the most action — 58 votes total — Jung still had plenty of down time.

“It’s a 12-hour shift, so I brought plenty of books and puzzles,” Jung said. “We knew we would see less than 100 voters today.”

Jung said he hopes more people show up for elections in the near future.

“If it’s an election, I think you ought to vote,” he said. “That’s the way we have to express our opinions.”