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Opinion | Low turnout, high stakes

Only 13 percent of Alabamians turned out to vote in the June 21 runoff election.


“The world is run by those who show up.” This quote has been used to motivate everyone from athletes to business leaders, but it’s never been truer than when it comes to elections — especially elections with a low voter turnout.

When only 13 percent of Alabamians turned out to vote in the June 21 runoff election, there were high stakes at hand. People say it only matters who wins in November, so they’ll wait until then to vote. The problem is the primary and runoff elections are what places people on the November ballots to be voted on in the first place. Since Alabama is such a Republican state, once the primary election is over many of the elections are decided. Every election matters. Every vote counts.

Despite the low turnout, Alabamians elected some good people. Congratulations to Katie Britt and her entire team on a brilliant win, which she would have won without the endorsement of former President Trump. I’m sure she was happy to have his help, but she won it fairly of her own accord. That speaks volumes for her work ethic and commitment to the campaign. There were many difficulties along the way, and her persistence, hard work and dedication to the cause paid off for her. She will be an excellent U.S. Senator.

Britt’s team is led by SR Communications’ Paul Shashy and Sean Ross. They have led the campaigns of both our U.S. Senators — Tommy Tuberville and now Britt. What’s impressive is that they are so young. They’ll be around as long or longer than Sens. Tuberville and Britt, and you’ll hear their names many more times. Then again, maybe you won’t. They work behind the scenes, and both have a quite humility about them, which is a welcomed addition in Alabama politics. They have pulled many other campaigns from the near throes of death to victory and their win rate in multiple campaigns is rock solid. They’re hard to beat, much less any candidate or cause they represent.

Special shout out to Wes Allen who dethroned proverbial candidate Jim Ziegler in the secretary of state race. Allen, a former Probate Judge who has run a dozen elections without error, deserved this win and will be the only probate judge in history to win the coveted seat of secretary of state. He’ll make a great one. A special shout out to Allen’s political consultant Angi Horn who devised a brilliant strategy to come from behind and defeat Zeigler for a big win.

We got lucky with the low turnout and elected some good people. But back to the fact that we had such low turnout. A former legislator once told me a man ran a political poll and asked what the two biggest problems in the state were. The results came back as ignorance and apathy. He couldn’t believe it, so he went to his local coffee shop, surely the people gathered there would be a better polling audience because they were common people, he thought. So, he asked them, “What are the two biggest problems in our state?”  They said, “We don’t know, and we don’t care.” Thus, proving the point of the poll.

With numbers like we saw in the runoff — one of the three lowest runoff turn outs in our state’s history — you must hang your head a little and wonder if it’s true. Either way there’s one thing for sure, with low turnout, there are high stakes. Thank God we elected some really good people.

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Beth Chapman is the former Alabama state auditor and 51st secretary of state. She now owns and operates Beth Chapman & Associates LLC. She can be reached at [email protected].

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