Polls Open Under Gray Skies

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Source: Solomon Crenshaw Jr., BirminghamWatch

A poll worker puts up signs at Sixth Avenue Baptist Church as polling places prepared to open at 7 a.m.

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By Virginia Martin

Voters began going to the polls across the state at 7 a.m., many of them braving threats of rain but not the severe weather that had been predicted.

In fact, voters will be going to the polls across the country today for the highly watched mid-term elections in a political season that has churned up debate mostly about its potential effect on the Republican-Democratic balance in the U.S. House and Senate.

Alabama’s congressmen and women are on the ballot today, but one of those seats flipping from one party to the other would be surprising. Here, the focus is on the election because it will decide all of the top state and county officeholders for the next four years.

The governor’s race is top of the ticket, along with the races for chief justice, attorney general and all of the other statewide offices. Voters also will be choosing their legislators, judges, court officials, county commissioners, board of education members, sheriffs, district attorneys  and others.

In addition, there are four constitutional amendments on the statewide ballot that would: authorize display of the Ten Commandments on state property and at schools and other public places; oppose abortion and state that “the constitution of this state does not protect the right to abortion or require the funding of abortion;” alter membership of the board of trustees of the University of Alabama; and state that there will not be a special election to fill any seat in the Legislature that becomes vacant after Oct. 1 in the third year of a four-year term.

Jefferson County voters will decide on a proposed constitutional amendment that would lift the lid on property taxes in Homewood.

In Shelby County, a proposed constitutional amendment would make seats on the county Board of Education and the superintendent of education elected positions.

Alabama has a record 3.4 million registered voters this fall, but Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has predicted voter turnout will be near record lows, possibly in the 25 percent to 40 percent range.

Jefferson County Board of Registrars Chairman Barry Stephenson said he expects 190,000 to 200,000 of the county’s 480,000 registered voters to cast ballots today.

He said his office has been monitoring the weather, and he hopes the rain and thunderstorms predicted will have moved out before the polls open. But the polls statewide will open at 7 a.m., regardless of weather.

If you haven’t decided for whom you want to vote in some of the races, the BirminghamWatch Voter Guide has information on the races and the candidates, a printable sample ballot, and information about how to find your polling place and deal with other issues that could come up during voting.

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