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A dozen things to know, expect during election day today

Chip Brownlee | The Trace

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Polls are open across the state, and voters are headed out to cast their ballots. Here are a few questions, answers and things you can expect to happen today.

1. What time do polls close?

Polls close at 7 p.m. in Alabama. If you’re in line by 7 p.m., you can still vote. Stay in line to cast your ballot.

2. Will polling places be closed because of bad weather?

There have been some questions about how weather may impact poll openings. Some polling places are in schools that are set to delay opening because of expected severe weather, but Secretary of State John Merrill said Monday evening that all polling locations — even those in closed schools — will open on time.

“The delayed opening of certain schools will not affect the polling site in that location,” he said. “All polls will open at 7 AM in all jurisdictions tomorrow morning on election day!”

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3. I’m listed as inactive, can I still vote?

Yes, you can still vote! Go vote, and the poll workers will give you a special form to fill out to update your voter information. It may take a tiny bit longer, but you can still cast your normal ballot. About one in 10 voters are listed as inactive. That’s because your address may have changed and you didn’t receive a voter confirmation card from your county board of registrars.

4. I don’t have an ID, but I’m registered. Can I still vote?

Yes, you can still vote. Ask for a provisional ballot, and don’t let up. The poll workers have to give you a provisional ballot. You have until the following Friday to get in touch with your county’s board of registrars to prove your identity. If you follow up and prove your identity, your vote will count.

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I answered some more voting questions yesterday. Check out this FAQ if you still need to go vote.

5. I had some issues at my polling place. What do I do?

If you have issues at your polling place or if you want to report something atypical, call the Secretary of State’s Voter Hotline at 1-800-274-8683.

6. I saw on Twitter that turnout is astronomical.

Yeah, that always happens. Ignore it.

General social media rules apply. Be skeptical. Turnout is probably going to be higher nationally today than during a normal midterm election, but turnout will still likely be lower than during presidential elections.

In Alabama, the secretary of state has predicted a 35 to 40 percent turnout, which is about on par with turnout during the 2014 midterm and statewide elections. Turnout that year actually hit a 28-year low. If his estimates are right, turnout here would actually be low, not high. It remains to be seen if Merrill’s estimates are correct.

In 2010 — the last time midterms and a truly competitive statewide election coincided — turnout was about 58 percent. Again, much, much higher than what is anticipated today.

Anecdotal reports on social media about turnout are often, if not always, wrong. Lines are almost always long, and it’s easy to get confused or excited or both.

Just be skeptical. That’s my rule of thumb.

7. What time can I expect results?

Polls close at 7 p.m. Some votes will begin rolling in by 7:30 p.m. But beware, those are usually the absentee ballots, and they can vary wildly from final election results. Don’t be fooled.

It’s best to wait until we have 10-15 percent of precincts reporting in to start making any assumptions. Depending on how close the races are, the Associated Press will probably start calling some of them by 9 p.m., if not earlier for some less-competitive races. Some of the more competitive races could come in a lot later.

8. Where should I look for results?

In the digital era, there are a lot of options. I follow the New York Times, because their results tend to update the quickest. In the state, AL.com and the Montgomery Advertiser have good live-results pages.

Here at APR, we will host a live blog later today breaking down results coming in and offering commentary. Check back on our homepage around 6:30 p.m. for that.

9. What about nationally?

The first polls close nationwide at 6 p.m. ET or 5 p.m. CT in Kentucky. After that, it will be a flood of results and exit polls on national media. It will likely be a long night, especially if races are tighter than expected. Results on the West Coast will come much later and into Wednesday. Because of mail-in voting in California and Washington, we may not have their full results for days.

10. I’m a politics wonk. What areas should I watch on election night?

I’m going to be watching to see if Tuscaloosa, Lee and Madison counties turn blue in statewide and congressional races tonight. Those counties voted pretty decisively — by 15 to 17 percentage points — for Democrat Doug Jones in December even though those counties broke for Donald Trump by a similar margin in 2016. Democrats will need to win those counties if they have any chance tonight.

Other than that, I’ll be watching to see how much Democrats can run up the score in Jefferson and Montgomery counties, which are typically Democratic strongholds. Democrats will need to do better in suburban areas Jefferson and Montgomery counties than they have in the past if they are to have any hope.

It’s also possible turnout will be lower in the 7th Congressional District because U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell is facing no opponent tonight. If that happens, and it’s bad enough, Democrats have no chance of winning statewide. They need voters to turn out in that Democratic district in order to outpace Republican strongholds elsewhere.

11. Who is expected to win?

Alabama is a deeply red state. Common wisdom would say Republicans will keep control of Alabama’s government. They’re likely to win all of the statewide races, and they will almost assuredly keep their majorities in the State House and Senate.

There is little, if any, public polling of the state races in Alabama. The only thing we have to go on is history and fundraising numbers, which can give us a slight idea — albeit definitely not an authoritative answer — about who might win.

Republicans have outraised Democrats in every other statewide race, but Democrats have had more individual contributors in the last month of the election.

Democratic governor candidate Walt Maddox has outpaced Republican Gov. Kay Ivey in the number of individual contributors in recent weeks, but the race is still seen as hers to lose.

Same for the attorney general race between Republican Steve Marshall and Democrat Joe Siegelman, though Marshall has caught some flack from Republicans Roy Moore and Troy King, his former primary opponent, for taking contributions from the Republican Attorneys General Association. He’s facing an ethics complaint for taking that money.

There are some other interesting races to watch, though. Democratic Supreme Court chief justice candidate Bob Vance has significantly outraised Republican candidate Tom Parker both in total contributions and the number of individual contributions. Vance was close to beating former Moore for the same job six years ago, and it’s possible he could do that again with Parker, who has long been a Moore ally on the court, matching him almost perfectly ideologically. That race will likely be one of the closest.

12. What about Congress?

All of Alabama’s congressional seats are considered pretty solid. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, Alabama’s sole Democrat, is uncontested in the 7th Congressional District. The other six races are solidly Republican.

Even the two most closely watched races in the 2nd and 3rd Congressional District are almost assuredly to remain Republican. FiveThirtyEight, perhaps the most-cited election forecaster, gives Republican Rep. Mike Rogers in the 3rd Congressional District a 99 percent chance of being re-elected.

The tightest race is in the 2nd Congressional District between Rep. Martha Roby, a Republican, and her Democratic challenger Tabitha Isner. Even there, Isner has less than a one in 40 chance of winning.

Nationally, Democrats are expected to take back the House, and Republicans are expected to maintain control of the Senate. But both are subject to forecasting errors, and it’s possible both could go either way. We’ll be watching to see if Democratic enthusiasm is as high as is expected.

 

Chip Brownlee is a former political reporter, online content manager and webmaster at the Alabama Political Reporter. He is now a reporter at The Trace, a non-profit newsroom covering guns in America.

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Etowah County Republicans rally for Trump

Brandon Moseley

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The Etowah County Republican Party and the Trump campaign will be holding a Celebrate America rally and prayer meeting on Sunday in anticipation of Tuesday’s general election.

“We the People plan to peacefully assemble at our town square Tomorrow, November 1st at 2:00 PM to rally around President Trump and pray for our nation, our first responders, and for our President,” organizers said.

Remarks will be made by special guest Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville.

Singer songwriters Camille and Haley will perform.

Pastors Mark Gidley, Joey Jones and Bruce Word will be speaking.

“Bring your friends and family as we pray, celebrate and rally for America!” organizers said. “Our outdoor program and rally will be an amazing hour that you will not want to miss! Please mark your calendars and please share.”

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Patriotic attire, American flags, and Trump flags are welcome. The event will be in the Rainbow City Town hall parking lot.

Robert Aderholt is in his twelfth term representing Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District. Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District is where Trump had his greatest margin of victory in the entire country in 2016.

President Trump and Congressman Aderholt both face Democratic challengers in Tuesday’s general election.

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Slow absentee voting in Tuscaloosa sparks outrage, possible legal action

Among the issues were incredibly long lines that left some voters waiting more than five hours and an inefficient process that managed to take in fewer than 100 absentee ballots in six hours. 

Josh Moon

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Long lines and slow absentee ballot processing in Tuscaloosa County have left voters outraged and incumbent Sen. Doug Jones’s campaign threatening legal action. 

On Wednesday, Jones’s campaign attorney, Adam Plant, sent a letter to Tuscaloosa County Circuit Clerk Magaria Bobo, outlining a number of issues with ongoing absentee voting and promising to take legal action if Bobo doesn’t improve the process on the final day, Friday. Among the issues documented by Plant were incredibly long lines that left some voters waiting more than five hours and an inefficient process that managed to take in fewer than 100 absentee ballots in six hours. 

Additionally, Plant noted that Bobo has hired her family members to help process absentee ballots and at least one family member had made disparaging remarks on social media about voters. 

“You and those acting on your behalf are suppressing the vote of qualified Alabama voters,” Plant wrote in the letter. “If you are unable or unwilling to execute your duties competently, and allow Tuscaloosa voters to exercise their voting rights without undue burdens, we will take further action.”

In an interview with the Montgomery Advertiser on Wednesday, Bobo noted that her office had received more than 13,000 requests for absentee ballots — a remarkable uptick from the 3,000 or so her office usually receives — and there had been problems in managing that number of ballots while also adhering to social distancing guidelines within the office. 

However, as Plant’s letter notes, the massive increase in absentee ballots for this election shouldn’t have been a surprise. Also, Secretary of State John Merrill had made additional funds available to absentee managers to facilitate hiring extra staff, purchasing additional computers and staying open for longer hours to accommodate the anticipated increase. 

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In a press release on Wednesday, the Alabama Democratic Party criticized Bobo and her family members, and the release included screenshots of Facebook posts from Bobo’s daughter lashing out at voters who complained about the long wait times. 

“No voter should have to wait in line for hours to exercise their rights,” said ADP executive director Wade Perry. “We should leverage every tool we have to make voting easier, not harder. Also, it should go without saying that election workers should not insult the very people they are employed to serve. If Ms. Bobo is incapable of processing voters quickly, someone else needs to do the job.”

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Jones campaign calls Tuberville a “coward” after no-show at Auburn forum

“Tuberville is hiding because he knows that on every front — policy, experience, character, competence — he loses to Doug Jones. Hands down,” Jones’s campaign said.

Brandon Moseley

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Sen. Doug Jones, left, and Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville, right.

There are only four days left before election day, and incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones’s re-election campaign is slamming Republican challenger Tommy Tuberville, accusing him of “hiding” and calling him a “coward.”

On Wednesday, Jones addressed an Auburn University forum. Tuberville did not attend.

“Tonight, the College Democrats and College Republicans at Auburn University co-hosted a debate between Doug Jones and Tommy Tuberville, offering students a chance to ask the candidates about the issues that matter most to Alabama,” the Jones campaign said in an email to supporters. “But Tuberville never showed up – he’s too scared to face Doug… even on his own home turf. Tuberville has repeatedly refused to debate Doug Jones. He’s consistently refused to be interviewed by the press. He’s refused to tell Alabama the truth about who and what they’re voting for – and it’s clear why.”

“Tuberville is hiding because he knows that on every front — policy, experience, character, competence — he loses to Doug Jones. Hands down,” the campaign continued. “If he won’t tell the truth, we will. Tuberville expects to win this race off of his blind allegiance to the President and his party affiliation. But Alabamians know better.”

“People deserve to know who they’re really voting for if they vote for Tuberville: someone who … won’t protect our health care, doesn’t believe in science, has no idea what the Voting Rights Act is, and doesn’t care about the lives and livelihoods of Alabamians,” the Jones campaign concluded. “Alabama will never elect a coward. Pitch in now and help us spread the truth about the man hiding behind the ballot.”

“I am disappointed that Tommy Tuberville is not here,” Jones said. “I think it is important that people see two candidates side by side answering the same questions.”

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Tuberville meanwhile is canvassing the state, speaking to rallies and Republican groups to turn out the Republican vote for himself and President Donald Trump. Tuberville spoke at Freedom Fest in Madison County on Thursday and at the Trump Truck Parade rally in Phenix City.

“It’s time Alabama had a U.S. senator who represents our conservative beliefs and traditional values,” Tuberville said in Phenix City. “It’s time Alabama had a U.S. senator who supports the Second Amendment, the right to life, and putting God back in the classroom.”

Polling consistently shows Tuberville with a commanding lead over Jones. Real Clear Politics lists the race on their current board as a likely Republican win. FiveThirtyEight’s election model gives Tuberville a 79 percent chance of defeating Jones.

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Tuberville says election is about “the American dream”

“It is not about me. It is not about Biden or Jones. It is about the American dream. They are trying to take it away from us,” Tuberville claimed.

Brandon Moseley

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Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville (TUBERVILLE CAMPAIGN)

Thursday, Tommy Tuberville spoke at Freedom Fest asking Madison County voters to support him and re-elect Donald J. Trump Tuesday.

The former Auburn University head football Coach told the estimated crowd of 350 that, “It is great to be here. This has been a lot of fun for me. Two years ago, my wife and I started to pray on whether or not to run. When we decided to run, she said don’t come back until you win.”

“This is a very serious election,” Tuberville said. “This is not about Donald Trump. It is not about me. It is not about Biden or Jones. It is about the American dream. They are trying to take it away from us.”

“I always told my players this: this country gives you the opportunity to fail and if you fail you get back up and try again,” Tuberville said. “When I was growing up in Arkansas I wanted to be a college football coach. People in high school laughed at me for it and people in college. It takes perseverance.”

Tuberville said that this country gives you the opportunity to succeed, more so than any other country in the world. Most of the rest of the world is socialist.

Tuberville warned that the other side is trying to turn America into a socialist country.

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“We are not going to let them ruin this country,” Tuberville vowed.

The 2020 Madison County GOP Freedom Fest was held at the brand new Toyota Field, the new home of the Huntsville Trash Pandas minor league baseball team.

Tuberville praised President Trump whom “I have gotten to know through all of this and we have become friends. He never slows down; and he is sharp as a tack.”

Tuberville said that the President once called him at 2:30 in the morning, “He said sleep is overrated.”

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To protect the American dream we need to vote on Tuesday to keep the Senate and get Donald Trump re-elected.”

Tuberville said that he has spoken with, “A lot of people who as nervous as I am about Tuesday.” Coach Tuberville, who is being outspent, urged the crowd to ignore all of the television ads by his opponent, incumbent Senator Doug Jones (D).

Tuberville vowed to defend the Second Amendment if elected, “They ain’t getting my guns….or your guns.”

“We need to get God back in our schools and teach values again,” Tuberville stated. “The other side does not talk about values and morals.”

We are not going to allow them to tear down our country,” Tuberville said. “God will not allow them.”

“We are going to get God back in our country like it is supposed to be,” Tuberville said.

Coach Tuberville was introduced to the crowd by State Senator Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville).

Scofield said that he “is ready to send Doug Jones back to California.”

“Yes I know he is actually from here; but he sure votes like California. He certainly doesn’t vote like the vast majority of the people of Alabama want him to vote.”

Scofield called Tuberville is “A fighter” who will stand up for the values of the people of Alabama.

Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) said, “This is the most important election of my lifetime.”

“Do we believe in freedom and liberty or do we believe in socialism?” Brooks said. “We need to beat them like a drum.”

The general election is on Tuesday. You must bring a valid photo ID with you to your assigned polling place in order to participate.

Secretary of State John H. Merrill predicted that the state would have record participation on Tuesday.

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