Turnout lower than four years ago
by Star Staff
Nov 06, 2012 | 3862 views |  0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two men chat outside the Carver Community Center as voters head inside to cast their ballots. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
Two men chat outside the Carver Community Center as voters head inside to cast their ballots. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
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Despite reports of steady streams of voters at local polls Tuesday, fewer people cast their ballots this year in Calhoun County than did four years ago.

A little more than 46,160 residents voted Tuesday --- about 3,100 fewer votes than were cast in the county during the 2008 general election.

Locally, about 65,279 people are actively registered to vote in Calhoun County, or about 55 percent of the county’s total population of 118,572, U.S. Census Bureau stats show.

About 70 percent of those actively registered actually came to the polls Tuesday.

In 2008, 75 percent of the 65,368 registered voters cast their ballots --- again, that percentage is slightly higher than what was seen in this most recent general election.

The lower turnout was somewhat surprising in light of what seemed like a robust day of voting for county residents: Observers at polling places at the Anniston City Meeting Center and First Presbyterian Church noted the steady and “swift” number of voters. And as the county’s 54 boxes came in for the county later that evening, Sheriff Larry Amerson described the local turnout as “historic.”

Those boxes, by the way, took more than three hours to count.

Still, rather than historic, turnout proved to be lower than previous elections. Local and state election officials noted that Alabama’s lack of attention from candidates on the presidential ticket, the drop in the number of absentee ballots filed this year compared to 2008 and the cold, rainy weather all deter people from going to the polls.

This year’s absentee ballots were an early indication that local turnout might be lower than before: Only about 1,600 people filed absentee applications this year, while twice that number voted absentee in 2008, according to Circuit Clerk Ted Hooks.

Moreover, in Cleburne County, absentee ballots dropped to only 338 this from about 380 in 2008.

A desire for change and a belief that they could help be a part of that change were some of the reasons local voters did go to the polls Tuesday.

Jim Brooks, voting at Golden Springs Community Center, said he believed Obama hadn’t been truthful on his policies. He said economy had suffered under Obama’s leadership.

“I have not liked the direction we were going under Obama,” Brooks said.

Others turned out to vote, because they felt strongly about the issues important to this election, issues like the economy and women’s rights.

Barb Bungert, 53, said she voted because she thinks “it’s important. You should use your rights.” She also cast a vote for Obama in Jacksonville. She chose John McCain in 2008, she said, but was swayed this time by issues important to her as a woman.

“I don’t like the way the Republicans are swinging on women’s rights,” she said.

Lasonja Talley, at the Calhoun County Health Center, said she was voting not only because she wanted to make her voice heard, but because she believes those who don’t make their wishes known by casting their ballot have no reason to complain later when the elected officials do something they don’t like.

“It’s a very important time,” Talley said. “I mean, it’s for the president.”
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