Last Tuesday’s statewide primary election was marked by low turnout in the Black Belt and statewide. Statewide voter turnout in both the Democratic and Republican primaries was estimated at only 23%, according to Alabama’s Secretary of State. The election decided, among other matters, both parties’ candidates for Governor and U.S. Senate.
In the Black Belt, where voter turnout has routinely been above 50% or more for many counties, turnout was markedly lower in this election, as well.
In Hale County, with 11,888 total registered voters, there were only 3,345 ballots cast, or a total of 28.14% voter turnout. In Perry, with 7,752 total registered voters, there were 2,877 ballots cast, for 37.11% turnout.
Other Black Belt counties, as well, experienced low turnout in the May 24 primary. Greene County had 44.5% turnout, Marengo had 37.39%, and Wilcox had 44.92%.
Dallas County, with one of the largest populations in the Black Belt, had numerous candidates on the ballot for local and statewide office. Malika Sanders-Fortier, a Selma native, was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor, while her father, Hank Sanders, was one of four Dallas Countians seeking the nomination for State Senate District 23. Sanders held the seat for many years before his daughter, Sanders-Fortier, succeeded him. She was required to relinquish that seat to seek the gubernatorial nomination. Robert Stewart, Darrio Melton, and Thayer Spencer were the other three candidates for that nomination, all from Dallas. State Sen. District 23 includes eight counties in the Black Belt and surrounding area.
Even with many local candidates on the ballot, and a total registered voter base of 29,859 voters, only 10,065 ballots were cast in Dallas County, for 33.71% turnout.