Saks High School polling

Voters head to the polls at Saks High School in today's U.S. Senate special election. (Zach Tyler/The Anniston Star)

There were no lines, but a steady stream of voters, at polling places in Calhoun County today as Alabamians began casting ballots in the U.S. Senate special election today.

“There’s been a pretty good turnout everywhere I’ve been,” said Sheriff Matthew Wade, whose office will release the vote count at the end of the day.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. for one of the most-watched Alabama elections in decades. Former state Supreme Court chief justice Roy Moore, a Republican, faces Democrat Doug Jones, a former federal prosecutor from Birmingham in a special election to fill the seat once occupied by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The race is the first Senate election of the Trump era, and the only federal election going on in the country right now. Moore’s past statements on gay rights and other issues drew national attention to the race – and that attention only grew when The Washington Post published accounts of women who said Moore pursued them romantically or sexually when they were in their teens and Moore in his 30s. Moore has denied the claims.

Election officials last week predicted that about 25 percent of the state’s voters would turn out, with perhaps 30 percent showing up in Calhoun County. That’s weaker than in most elections, but strong compared to past special elections in Alabama. Turnout in the Senate primary and runoff never exceeded 20 percent.

County elections officials said Tuesday morning that 533 absentee votes have been recorded so far. That’s about three times the number absentee ballots cast in the Sept. 26 Republican runoff.

“So far the turnout is about what we were expecting,” said J.J. Taylor, a member of the county’s board of registrars.

Media outlets reported lines at a few polling places in other parts of the state, but in Calhoun County poll workers reported a steady flow of voters.

One hundred thirty-three voters cast ballots at Jacksonville’s First Baptist Church in the first 75 minutes of voting; 420 votes were recorded there in the Sept. 26 runoff. At Saks High School, 480 people had voted by 10:30 p.m. In the runoff, only 620 votes were cast at Saks High in the entire day of voting.

Polls close at 7 p.m.

Capitol & statewide reporter Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.