Big draw to polls is Bush, Kerry race

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 2, 2004

REGION – Alabamians love a good presidential election, and today’s is likely to be no different.

With eight statewide constitutional amendments on the ballot, the only real local races are found in Hale County where incumbent County Commissioner Lois Fields, who lost her Democratic primary to Elijah Knox, has launched a write-in campaign in the District 2 commissioner’s race. Also on the ballot is a highly controversial amendment, one of two local amendments on the Hale County ballot.

Under Local Amendment 2, ad valorem taxes would nearly double in the county. The largest share of that increase, 18 mills, would fall to the county school system. The amendment would also increase the homestead exemption in the county to $6,000.

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In Sumter, Greene, Perry and Marengo counties the only amendments to appear on the ballots will be statewide amendments.

Local candidates – county board of education, a smattering of county commissioners and a few constable posts – don’t have general election opponents, although write-ins are allowed on all the ballots.

“The thing people need to remember is vote for their candidate,” said Hale County Probate Judge Leland Avery. “There is an area on the ballot for write-in candidates.”

In the 17th Judicial Circuit, District Attorney Greg Griggers is one of the candidates without a general election opponent.

“It’s important for people to go vote – we have supreme court judges, appellate court judges … important statewide offices are up for election and everybody needs to pay attention to it and vote,” he said.

Apparently, Alabama voters place importance in going to the polls in a presidential general election.

According to Secretary of State Nancy Worley’s office, the presidential general elections have drawn the widest voter turnout.

In the last four presidential races, an average 65 percent of the state’s voters show up at the polls.

That’s a better average than those that show up for gubernatorial elections, which average only a 54.2 percent turnout in the last five governor’s races. Those election years generally also contained county commissions, boards of education and legislative races as well.

Sumter County Probate Judge Willie Pearl Rice said her county is ready for the election.

“We have everything on go,” she said Monday. “We don’t wait until the last minute to get things ready.”

She said she expected a good turnout for today’s election.