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!”
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.
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.
Carl, Hightower raising money for July GOP primary runoff
Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl and former State Senator Bill Hightower are running in the Republican Party primary runoff on July 14.
Both campaigns are preparing for the final push. Their Federal Elections Commission reports on their fundraising efforts are through the end of March.
Carl reported total receipts of $1,513,462.10. $709,525.10 of Carl’s money comes contributions. $670,169.60 of that is contributions from individuals; while $37,700 are contributions from other committees. Carl has contributed $1,655.50 to his own campaign. Carl’s congressional campaign also reports personally loaning his campaign $758,900.
Carl has already spent $1,307,240.85. $1,114,940.85 was for campaign operating expenses, $400 was for contribution refunds and $191,900 were loan repayments. Carl entered the month with $206,221.25 in cash on hand and debts of $567,000.
R.E. Myles of Grand Bay, AL donated $8400 to Carl’s campaign. Myles is the President of the law firm McDowell, Knight, Roedder, & Sledge. There are two entries for Mr. Myles of Grand Bay. The second is for $5,600. Carl’s other top contributors include: Rachel Burton is a Mobile housewife $5,800. Philip Burton of Mobile contributed $5,600. Burton works for the Burton Property Group. Clarence Burke Jr. of Foley works for Wolf Creek Industries $5,600. Nancy Myles of Grand Bay is retired, $5,600. Morgan Myles is a Mobile engineer with Core Industries, $5600. White-Spunner & Associates is a real estate firm, $5,400. Warren Nicholson of Mobile, who works for NFINA Technology, $5,400. Kathy Nichols of Mobile is retired, $5,400. Matt Metcalfe is a Mobile realtor, $5,400. Jerry Lathan is a contractor from Theodore, $5,400.
Former State Senator Bill Hightower reported total contributions of $1,071,355.21. $1,032,155.21 were individual contributions; while $39,200 were contributions from other committees. Hightower has no outstanding loans.
Hightower has already spent $858,340.60. $848,860.60 were operating expenses. $5,600 were refund contributions to individuals. $3,880 were other disbursements. The Hightower campaign had $213,023.40 in cash on hand.
Club for Growth PAC is supporting Hightower and they have donated $19.600 to his campaign. Major contributors include: Richard Uihlein of Lake Forest, Illinois is the CEO/owner of Uline, $11,200. Roy Drinkard of Cullman is the owner of Drinkard Construction, $2,800. Lamar Harrison of Wilmer, AL is the President of Gulf Construction and Hauling, $2,800.00. Rhonda Scott is an Opelika homemaker, $2,800.00. Allen Harris of Opelika is the owner of Bailey-Harris Construction Company $2,800. Donna Williams is a Mobile homemaker $2,800. George Montgomery is the president of his own company $2,800. Sherri Trick is a Tuscaloosa homemaker $2,800. Carrie Montgomery of Mobile is the treasurer at Gulf Fastener. $2,800. Kreis William of Birmingham is a vice president at JohsonKreis Construction $2,800.
The winner of the Republican primary runoff will face the winner of the Democratic Party primary runoff between James Averhart and Kiani Gardner
The First Congressional District is an open seat, because incumbent Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, is not seeking re-election.
League of Women Voters of Alabama sue over voting amid COVID-19 pandemic
The League of Women Voters of Alabama on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Gov. Kay Ivey, Secretary of State John Merrill and several Montgomery County election officials asking the court to expand Alabama’s absentee voting and relax other voting measures amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The nonprofit is joined in the suit by 10 plaintiffs who range in age from 60 to 75, many of whom have medical conditions that put them at greater risk for serious complications or death from COVID-19.
“Voting is a right, not a privilege, and elections must be safe, accessible, and fairly administered,” the League of Women Voters of Alabama said in a press release Thursday. “Alabama’s Constitution specifically requires that the right to vote be protected in times of ‘tumult,’ clearly including the current pandemic.”
Currently, to vote absentee in Alabama, a person must send a copy of their photo ID and have their ballot signed by a notary or two adults. The lawsuit asks the court to require state officials to use emergency powers to waive the notary or witness requirement, the requirement to supply a copy of a photo ID and to extend no-excuse absentee voting into the fall.
Among the plaintiffs is Ardis Albany, 73, of Jefferson County who has an artificial aortic valve, according to the lawsuit.
“Because she fears exposing herself to COVID-19 infection, Ms. Albany has already applied for an absentee ballot for the November 3, 2020, general election,” the complaint states. “Her application checked the box for being out of county on election day, and she is prepared to leave Jefferson County on election day if necessary to vote an absentee ballot.”
Another plaintiff, 63-year-old Lucinda Livingston of Montgomery County suffers from heart and lung problems and has been sequestered at home since March 17, where she lives with her grandson, who’s under the age of five, according to the complaint.
“She fears acquiring COVID-19, given her physiological pre-morbidity, and she fears spreading the virus to her grandson at home,” the complaint states. “She has never voted an absentee ballot, but she wishes to do so in the elections held in 2020. She does not have a scanner in her home, cannot make a copy of her photo ID, and has no way safely to get her absentee ballot notarized or signed by two witnesses.”
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Gov. Ivey pushed the Republican runoff election back until July 14. Although Merrill has allowed those who may be concerned about voting in person in the runoff to vote absentee by checking a box on the ballot that reads “I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls.”
Merril has not extended that offer for voters in the municipal and presidential elections in November, however.
Meanwhile, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alabama continue to rise, while testing for the virus has remained relatively flat in recent weeks.
“We’re extraordinarily concerned about the numbers that we have been seeing,” said Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, speaking during a press briefing Thursday.
Harris said the department continues to see community spread of the virus and have identified several hotspots. He’s concerned that the public isn’t taking the virus seriously or following recommendations to wear masks in public and maintain social distancing, he said Thursday.
“One hundred years ago the nonpartisan League of Women Voters was founded to protect and preserve the right to vote and the integrity of the electoral process,” said Barbara Caddell, President of the League of Women Voters of Alabama, in a statement. “The unexpected risks posed by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID19) challenge our election system to the utmost. Today, we ask that Alabama’s courts use Alabama’s laws to make it safe and possible for all citizens to vote.”
The League of Woman Voters of Alabama’s lawsuit is similar to a suit by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program which asks the court to require state officials to implement curbside voting for at-risk citizens during the coronavirus pandemic and to remove requirements for certain voter IDs and witnesses requirements.
The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday filed a brief in that suit that states the department doesn’t believe Alabama’s law that requires witnesses for absentee ballots violates the Voting Rights Act.
National Right to Life Committee endorses Aderholt
Wednesday, the campaign to re-elect Congressman Robert Aderholt, (R Haleyville) announced that the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) has endorsed him for re-election to Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District.
“I am truly humbled to have the endorsement of the National Right to Life Committee,” said Congressman Aderholt. “I have, and I always will, fight for those who are the most vulnerable among us. I cannot think of anyone more vulnerable than the unborn. The National Right to Life Committee is committed to this fight, and it is an honor to fight along side them. As I have said before, no argument on the Pro-Choice side can get around one fundamental fact, abortion stops a human heartbeat.”
The NRLC Committee commended Aderholt in its endorsement:
“National Right to Life is pleased to endorse you for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives,” the Committee wrote. “We strongly commend you for maintaining a perfect 100% pro-life voting record throughout the 116th Congress.”
“You voted in support of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” the endorsement letter continued. “This legislation would require that a baby born alive during an abortion must be afforded the same degree of care that would apply to any other child at the same gestational age. You support the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. This Act would protect unborn children at 20 weeks, a point by which the unborn child is capable of experiencing great pain when being killed by dismemberment or other late abortion methods. You oppose using tax dollars to pay for abortion, and you oppose taxpayer funding of abortion providers.”
“You are a strong advocate for life,” the Committee said of Rep. Aderholt. “This endorsement reflects your commitment to strengthening a culture of life throughout our nation and in the U.S. House. We look forward to continuing our important work with you to protect the most vulnerable members of the human family – unborn children, the medically dependent, and persons with disabilities, whose lives are threatened by abortion or euthanasia.”
“All voters who are concerned with the right to life and with the protection of the most vulnerable members of the human family should vote to return you to the U.S. House, so that you can continue to work to advance vital pro-life public policies,” the endorsement letter concludes.
Robert B. Aderholt is a member of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, which has jurisdiction over funding the operation of the federal government. He serves as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. Aderholt also serves as a member of the Agriculture and Rural Development Subcommittee and the Defense Subcommittee. Aderholt is an advocate of fiscal responsibility, truth in budgeting and a federal government that operates within its means.
Aderholt also serves as a commission member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (commonly known as the Helsinki Commission). The Helsinki Commission is comprised of 56 countries around the world that together monitors human rights in Europe and Central Asia.
Aderholt believes the federal government serves a critical role in assisting state and local projects regarding economic development. He support pro-growth initiatives that create jobs, strong immigration standards, and robust national security.
Prior to his election to Congress, Aderholt served as Assistant Legal Advisor to Governor Fob James (R) as well as Municipal Judge for the city of Haleyville, Alabama. Aderholt has a bachelor’s degree from Birmingham Southern College and a law degree from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. He was born on July 22, 1965, and raised in Alabama, Aderholt and his wife, Caroline, have two children.
Congressman Robert Aderholt is seeking his thirteenth term representing Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District.
Aderholt faces a general election challenge from Democratic nominee Rick Neighbors.
Phyllis Schlafly Eagles’ President Ed Martin endorses Bill Hightower for Congress
Wednesday, Bill Hightower’s campaign for Congress announced that Phyllis Schlafly Eagles’ President Ed Martin is endorsing Hightower.
In addition to serving as President of Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, Ed Martin also co-authored Phyllis Schlafly’s last book: ‘The Conservative Case for Trump.’ Martin succeeded Schlafly after her death late in 2016. She was 92.
“In the tradition of the late Phyllis Schlafly, I am pleased to endorse Bill Hightower for Congress in Alabama’s First Congressional District” said Ed Martin. “We endorse candidates who support President Trump and his Pro America agenda. Those candidates must be pro-life, pro-family, and pro-Constitution. Bill Hightower is a strong conservative with a proven track record of supporting these fundamental American values.”
“I am thrilled to receive Ed’s endorsement,” Hightower said. “Phyllis and her Eagles were foundational leaders of the pro-family, conservative movement and ensuring traditional values were engaged in the political process. Those are the same values I support, those are the same values that made me one of Alabama’s most conservative state senators during my time in Montgomery, and those are the same values I will take with me to represent south Alabama in Washington.”
Schlafly was the founder and longtime President of Eagle Forum. Ed Martin was President of Eagle Forum, but was forced out by the Board led by Schlafly’s daughter who were backing Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for President. Schlafly and her sons endorsed Trump and created the break-away Eagles group in response.
Martin’s endorsement is the latest conservative leader to endorse Hightower’s campaign for Congress. Hightower has been endorsed by the nation’s oldest and largest pro-life organization, National Right to Life; as well as former Senator Rick Santorum, R-Pennsylvania, and Sen. Cruz.
Hightower was ranked as one of the most conservative State Senators in Alabama when he was in the legislature. There he advocated for smaller government, lower taxes, term limits, and a flat state income tax. Hightower was a candidate for Governor in 2018; but was defeated by Gov. Kay Ivey in the Republican primary.
As a boy, Hightower worked on his grandparent’s farm, cleaned swimming pools, and as a laborer on construction projects. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Alabama and a Master’s in Business Administration from Vanderbilt University.
In business, Bill has worked with Fortune 500 and other corporations including Emerson Electric, AlliedSignal, Eaton, and Balfour-Beatty. In 2002, he moved back to Mobile, to be closer to family. He now runs several small businesses.
Bill Hightower is married to Susan Binegar Hightower. They have three children and three grandchildren.
Hightower faces Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl in the Republican primary runoff on July 14.
The winner of the GOP runoff will face the winner of the Democratic Party runoff where James Averhart is running against Kiani Gardner. The general election will be November 3.
Incumbent Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, is not seeking re-election.
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