Polls open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday for runoff

By ED HOWELL
Posted 7/15/18

Runoffs for sheriff and probate judge will highlight the eight Republican races scheduled to be decided Tuesday in Walker County, with polls open that day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. .Those who voted in …

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Polls open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday for runoff

Posted

Runoffs for sheriff and probate judge will highlight the eight Republican races scheduled to be decided Tuesday in Walker County, with polls open that day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. .

Those who voted in the Democratic primary on June 5 will not be allowed to vote in the county due to a recent state law, although if they did not vote during the primary, they may be allowed to vote in the Republican runoffs.

No Democratic runoffs are taking place in Walker County; only 16 are scheduled in counties across the state, versus one for Republicans in all 67 counties. 

Turnout is traditionally a challenge for runoffs. Tuesday's local candidates may face an additional challenge: The National Weather Service is forecasting likely showers and thunderstorms that day. 

Secretary of State John Merrill is forecasting 15 to 18 percent turnout at the polls statewide. The biggest statewide race is the one for attorney general, where the incumbent, Steve Marshall, is facing opposition from a previous attorney general, Troy King. The winner will face Democrat Joseph Siegelman in November. 

Marshall led King statewide by about 3,000 votes during the June 5 primary, with each getting 28 percent in a four-person field. 

Also, state Rep. Will Ainsworth is in a runoff for lieutenant governor with Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, who led Ainsworth 42 percent to 37 percent on June 5, with Rusty Glover getting 20 percent. The winner will face Democrat Will Boyd in the General Election. 

A runoff is set for commissioner of agriculture and industries, with Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, and farmer Rick Pate running. Only write-in opposition will be seen in the fall. Pate had 40 percent of the vote on June 5, while Dial had almost 30 percent in a four-man field. 

Three judicial runoffs will  likely to be decided for good, with no Democratic opposition and only write-ins to face the nominee in November. None of the judicial candidates are incumbents in those races. 

Brad Mendheim, who had 43 percent of the vote in the primary, will face Sarah Hicks Stewart, who had 29 percent, for associate justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Place 1.

Christy Olinger Edwards, who had 41 percent on June 5, will face Michelle Manley Thomason, who had 32 percent, for Court of Civil Appeals judge, Place 1. Rich Anderson and Chris McCool, who led Anderson 43 percent to 35 percent on June 5, will compete for Court of Criminal Appeals judge, Place 2. 

McCool, a Gordo native and resident, has been the district attorney for Fayette, Lamar and Pickens counties in the 24th Judicial Circuit since 2001. 

Only two local races are on the county ballot, with the sheriff's runoff all but overshadowing a peaceful probate judge's race between attorneys John Mark Dutton and A. Lee Turner. In the probate race's primary vote, Dutton led 37 percent to 34 percent over Tucker. The third-place candidate, Dayron Bridges, with 29 percent, has endorsed Tucker. 

The winner will replace Probate Judge Rick Allison, who is retiring. 

Most of the attention in Walker County has been on the sheriff's race between the incumbent, Jim Underwood, and Cordova Police Chief Nick Smith. After provisional votes were counted to make the results official, Smith had 7,265 votes, or 49.98 percent, while Underwood had 6,620, or 45.55 percent. Steven Shaver, who has endorsed Smith since the primary, had 650 votes, of 4.47 percent. 

Smith needed 50 percent plus one vote to avoid a runoff. 

The race has been marked by heated words on Facebook and in hard-hitting ads between the two candidates.

The latest financial form for Smith on July 11 showed him with an ending balance of $8,227.98, with $3,000 contributed between July 5-9. Underwood's last report on July 9 showed an ending balance of negative $13,404.05, with $5,250 donated between June 30-July 2, including a $4,500 donation from an out-of-state person with the last name of Underwood.

The Secretary of State's website indicates that counting Shaver's funds, the race has resulted in $152,366.69 raised and $207,407.70 spent in the race since 2017. 

The runoff will not decide the sheriff's race. Two independent candidates, Mike Cole and Mark Bell, are already certified to run in the Nov. 6 General Election for sheriff. 

In November, voters will not be asked to give a party preference and will be allowed to crossover into other parties. 

Voters will also be asked Tuesday and on Nov. 6 to present a photo voter identification card, which can include a valid Alabama driver's license and a number of other forms of identification. 

Election tabulations will be made at the Jasper Civic Center, with returns likely to start arriving at roughly 7:30 p.m. or later. The Daily Mountain Eagle will livestream results on its Facebook page as they come in. 

All results, including the county results, are unofficial for another week, as provisional votes will not be counted until a week after the election. Circuit Clerk Susan Odom, who is in charge of absentee ballots, said most of the provisionals she sees is usually due to people moving and not changing their address on file in advance of the election. A total of four provisional votes had been made by absentees by Friday. 

The Walker County Board of Registrars said if one had moved but had not changed their address by now, they need to go to what would be their new polling place and vote a provisional ballot. 

According to the Board of Registrars, the number of voters registered for the runoff is 47,130, up from 46,983 for the primary. 

Voter registration and regular absentee ballot deadlines have passed. The business and medical emergency absentee balloting application deadline is 5 p.m. Monday.

Odom  said Friday that 245 absentee applications were made for the runoff, and 213 had been returned by Friday. Ballots returned by mail could still be postmarked by Monday or returned to the Circuit Clerk's Office by Monday.

She said that was a good number for a runoff, noting she had to order another 100 ballots to be printed once members of a mission trip started requesting absentees. 

One with questions may call the Secretary of State's Office at 1-800-274-8683. One may also go to alabamavotes.gov to obtain items such as sample ballots in all 67 counties, to look up one's polling place and see campaign finance reports, election laws and how to download an application for an emergency absentee ballot. One may also find the 2018 Alabama Voter Guide.