HEFLIN — Tuesday is Alabama’s primary election day, the climax of a campaign season which has seen political signs sprout like day lilies along Cleburne County’s highways.
A variety of local races, including probate judge, county commissioners and circuit clerk, awaits Cleburne voters on the ballot. All are on the Republican ticket, meaning the primary winner will be the November winner, unless challenged by an independent at that time (except in Senate District 13, where a Democrat will be the challenger).
Probate Judge Ryan Robertson — who is running for reelection himself — said there are 9,329 registered voters in Cleburne County. Robertson said that as a whole Cleburne voters turn out in proportionately larger numbers compared to the rest of the state.
“Usually it’s 60 percent in Cleburne County. We’re a little better than average — usually it’s 50 percent across the state,” Robertson said.
Robertson said that the poll workers will still have to use printed sheets to mark off voters’ names when they show up to vote at their polling place. The County Commission discussed using computer tablets for the poll workers to mark off voters as Secretary of State John Merrill donated 15 iPads for the county. Robertson said the commission decided not to spend the money for the software required for the devices to function for the election.
One of those not voting in this year’s election is Hubert Shealy, 75.
Shealy was putting groceries in the back of his pickup at the Piggly Wiggly on Ross Street last week. As Shealy tied a piece of carpet with twine over his Cokes, he said he’s never voted in his life.
“I don’t like politicians, any of them. A lot of people feel that way, they just don’t say it,” Shealy said as he opened the door and left.
Michelle Crosby was sitting in her black Mustang with her friend Marie Cross in the parking lot of the grocery store. Crosby, 49, was more optimistic about voting than Shealy.
“Go, Dennis,” Crosby said announcing her favorite choice in the sheriff's election between Danny Turner and incumbent Dennis Green.
“Dennis has been a good friend of my dad’s who was a police lieutenant here in Heflin — we’ve been knowing Dennis for 30 years — he’s always been a great guy,” Crosby said.
Voting is important to Crosby.
“It means we get to choose who we want to represent us in our town, our community,” Crosby said.
Crosby, who lives in Micaville, was not as passionate about some of the other races on the ballot.
“There’s a lot of things that need to be done out in the county. They forget us. They say what we want to hear — they’re gonna fix our roads, they’re gonna do this. We vote and nobody comes out. We’re still way out in the country,” Crosby said.
Up the street from the Piggly Wiggly at Kojack’s Variety Store, owner George Bowden, 81 — nicknamed Kojack — sat in the doorway watching the world pass by. Bowden had to raise his voice to be heard over the rumble of logging trucks loaded with pines.
“I believe it’s going to be a quiet one, brother,” Bowden said about this year’s election.
Bowden said his customers have not been talking about the election as he stood up to adjust some merchandise hanging tentatively the wall.
“I’m going to vote,” Bowden said.
Bowden plans to vote for the person and not the party but declined to name his favorites for this year’s election.