Two out of five registered Alabama voters — more than 1.3 million — cast ballots in Tuesday’s special election for U.S. Senate, turnout that propelled Democrat Doug Jones to a narrow victory over Roy Moore, the Republican.
The Alabama Secretary of State’s Office, in unofficial results Tuesday night, reported the turnout as just more than 40 percent of the state’s 3.3 million registered voters. That percentage is more than double the turnout for the Senate primary election in August, and is similar to the turnout for the 2008 presidential primary election.
There were no lines, but a steady stream of voters, at polling places in Calhoun County on Tuesday. At least 26,681 votes were cast in Calhoun County, according to unofficial results from the Sheriff’s Office.
“There’s been a pretty good turnout everywhere I’ve been,” said Sheriff Matthew Wade.
Polls opened at 7 a.m. for one of the most-watched Alabama elections in decades. Moore, a former state Supreme Court chief justice, faced 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 was 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 had been recorded to that point. 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.
Capitol & statewide reporter Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.