I’m not voting Tuesday, but Republicans should

September 21, 2017

By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter

I won’t be voting on Tuesday in the Special GOP Runoff between Roy Moore and Luther Strange. I voted in the Special Democratic Primary, so I’m going to respect the law and not try to cross over.

Though in an election paid for by Alabama taxpayers, that crossover law is bunk. If Republicans paid for their own primaries and Democrats paid for their own primaries, they could set such rules.

If the taxpayers of Alabama are paying the bill, anybody should be able to vote in any election.

The best option would be an open primary, like some states have, where all candidates, regardless of political party, face off. The top two vote-getters are in a runoff, regardless of party.

And everybody who is qualified to vote gets to vote.

But I digress.

I’m not voting Tuesday, but I would if I could. In a way, I’m glad I’m shut out, though, because, well, the choices. Certainly if you can vote Tuesday, please do.

Our state is filled with qualified voters who simply don’t take the time to spend five minutes casting a ballot. That’s a real shame, because that means a great minority of citizens are deciding who is going to lead us.

Still, despite our low voter turnout, we have high voter gripers.

Republicans should have stomach aches because of their choices: A disgraced former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court (Moore) or a sitting U.S. Senator appointed under fishy circumstances who appears ready to sell his soul for power (Strange).

Maybe I would have stayed home anyway, though I’m not really the staying home type.

So Tuesday’s winner — and it looks like that’ll be Moore — will go against Democrat Doug Jones in the Dec. 12 Special General Election.

And in that election, I will be voting, though voter turnout may be even less than for the first round of primaries and this Tuesday’s Special Republican Runoff.

I’m not even going to suggest who would be better for Republicans. They’ve picked their top two candidates, and in a massive misjudgment, picked Moore and Strange. They’ll have to live with that result.

Besides, if I suggested Moore or Strange, people would tell me I have no right, because I voted in the Special Democratic Primary. And they’d be correct.

No, I don’t like the rules, but I’ll follow them, and then hope at some point, the rules will be changed to accommodate a more fair system.

And I must note again, I’m not a Democrat. I’m a left-leaning Independent. I’ve voted, and will continue to vote, for both Democrats and Republicans.

Turnout in the Birmingham area for Tuesday’s vote will be especially interesting to watch. Jefferson County is decidedly Purple – a good combination of Blue and Red. Within Birmingham itself there may not be much of a turnout at all, since the city is overwhelmingly Democratic.

Plus, Birmingham voters must go to the polls a week later, Oct. 3, to decide who will be mayor for the next four years. Incumbent Mayor William Bell trailed challenger Randall Woodfin in the first round of voting.

As in most Alabama elections, who wins Tuesday’s Special GOP Runoff and a term as Birmingham’s mayor is going to be the candidate who gets the vote out. That’s even more important when the turnout will likely be dreadful.

That’s a shame, true, but that’s the way it is. Until more eligible voters care, that’s the way it will be.

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]

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