March 3 is only about two weeks away so I figured it’s a good time to remind everyone to vote.
Why do I feel the need to remind everyone? Well that’s because voter turnout in Alabama is, in fact, terrible just like the rest of the United States. Even more so in primaries than general elections, but I’ll get to that later.
So let’s talk about our voter turnout in Alabama, thanks to statistics available to everyone by the Alabama Secretary of State. Note that these numbers are proportional to the number of registered voters and not the percentage of the population eligible to vote.
The turnout for the last few elections are as follows:
• June 5, 2018, primary: 25.6 percent
• Dec. 12, 2017, special Senate general: 41 percent
• Aug. 15, 2017, special Senate primary: 17.9 percent
• Nov. 8, 2016, presidential general: 66.8 percent
• March 1, 2016, presidential primary: 41.4 percent
• Nov. 3, 2014, general: 39.8 percent
• Nov. 4, 2012, presidential general election: 73.2 percent
So, the state of Alabama has reached over 50 percent voter turnout twice in the past eight years, and not a single time in the primary.
So, how has the United States as whole, faired? A little better than the state.
In 2016, 86.8 percent of registered voters voted but only 55.7 percent of the voting-eligible population did, according to the Pew Research Center.
Belgium in 2014, had 89.37 percent of registered voters vote and 87.21 of the voting-eligible population vote. Sweden in 2014 had 85.81 percent and 82.6 percent, respectively, according to the Pew Research Center.
At the time this data was collected, 2016 was the most recent national election in the United States and for the other two countries it was 2014.
Now that it’s obvious this isn’t just an Alabama problem, let’s bring it back down to the state level and focus on those numbers for a primary, again, never reaching above 50 percent of the eligible voter turnout. That’s crazy to me.
My question is this: Why?
If anything I would think it would be swapped, especially in the state of Alabama. Here, the primary is where we’re really choosing who is going to get the office. Barring Doug Jones’ election, pretty much every office is guaranteed to be a Republican in this state.
So if we’re actually choosing who is going to represent the Republican Party (and therefore in most cases be elected), why aren’t more showing up? Why are people staying home?
The primary is where your vote matters the most. It’s where you, the voter, get to choose who. It’s your chance to make sure the candidate you like most makes it. It’s the election that says, “This is who I’m confident can beat the other candidate and do the best job.”
People always say after a general election that if you didn’t vote you can’t complain. The same can be said for a primary. If your favorite candidate isn’t chosen and you didn’t vote, you can’t complain. You had your chance to show your support.
For the U.S. Senate on the Republican ticket, we have Stanley Adair, Bradley Byrne, Arnold Mooney, Roy Moore, Ruth Page Nelson, Jeff Session and Tommy Tuberville. For the U.S. Representative on the Republican ticket, we have Thomas W. Brown Jr., Jeff Coleman, Teri Hasdorff, Troy King, Barry Moore, Bob Rogers and Jessica Taylor.
That’s a stacked field for both national seats. So when do we decide who gets to advance to the general election? March 3.
So instead make sure to go to the polls on March 3 and vote in the primary. Vote for your favorite candidate. The primary is where you get to be picky. The primary is where it isn’t party vs party but candidate vs candidate with your favorite being the right choice. Get out and vote and let’s try to reach over 50 percent this year.
We’re Americans, we’re known for our democracy and being the best country in the world. Now let’s show it by voting like we don’t take our right to vote for granted.
Justin Blowers is a staff writer for The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun-Courier. The opinions of this writer are his own and not the opinion of the paper. He can be reached at (334) 393-2969 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.