2017 U.S. Senate Race

Heavy Traffic at Alabama’s Polls for Jones-Moore Race Today

Line to vote at Mountain Brook City Hall. (Source: Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

Voters across the state are showing up at the polls today to choose between Democrat Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney, and Republican Roy Moore, a former Alabama chief justice.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has predicted turnout could be 25 percent, which would be higher than either the primaries or the Republican runoff.

But several probate judges have said today that they are expecting higher turnout in their counties.

Barry Stephenson, chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Registrars, said about 1 p.m. that voting today is “progressing pretty well.”

He said it’s running like a normal election day so far, and he thinks Jefferson County will top that number, based on the number of calls his office has been getting.

He’s heard a couple of polling places are somewhat cold, but those are the only complaints that have come in to his office.

Shelby County Probate Judge Jim Fuhrmeister told the Associated Press that turnout appears higher than normal among young people and black voters in the affluent, normally Republican county.

Fuhrmeister said he isn’t predicting a Democratic win. But the Jones camp has upped its grass-roots campaign in the county, and Furhmeister said he expects the party to see some results for its efforts.

Several probate judges have said they have received up to four times as many applications for absentee ballots as they usually process.

The U.S. Senate special election has drawn national attention for months, enough so that the Department of Homeland Security is keeping watch in the state today, according to AP.

A federal protective security adviser and a cybersecurity adviser are in Montgomery and working “side by side” with state government officials in case issues arise, a DHS official told AP.

The officials said it’s part of a larger effort to share threat information and technical support after DHS concluded Russian government hackers targeted election systems in 21 states last year.

Controversial From the Start

Even before several women accused Moore of having sexual contact with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s, the race was in the spotlight because it could determine a key vote in the Senate as Trump tries to get some of his major platform planks passed.

After the allegations, that attention exploded. The race has at one time or another been described as a referendum on President Trump and/or the Democratic Party, on American values or Alabama values, and on Alabama itself.

The allegations prompted at least four men to put their names into the ring or step up their campaigns as write-in candidates. The one who has drawn the most attention is Republican Lee Busby, a retired Marine colonel and former aide to White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly who currently is a sculptor and Tuscaloosa resident. He announced he was launching a write-in campaign out of frustration with limited options for Republican voters such as himself.

Others publicly rallying for write-in votes include Mac Watson, co-owner of a family patio supply store in Auburn, Eulas Kirtdoll Sr., who has said that all of the write-in candidates have struggled to be heard, and Libertarian Ron Bishop.

Some Republicans had grown hesitant about Moore after allegations of sexual abuse were made against him. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, publicly announced that he had voted by absentee ballot – and not for Moore. Shelby said he had written in the name of a distinguished Republican.

But later, Trump endorsed Moore and Republicans began to trickle back to his side.

Nonetheless, the controversy left the race mostly a statistical tie. Polls have seesawed between showing Moore up by a few points and then the next day showing Jones edging him out.

If it’s a close race with a large write-in component, it could delay results by a week or more, when the write-ins, along with votes cast by Alabama residents serving overseas, will be counted.

Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. across the state.

For complete coverage of the election, including candidate profiles, information about campaign donations, and rules for the polls and tools for the voter, Read the BirminghamWatch Voter Guide.

Candidate Profiles
What You Need to Know at the Polls
Campaign Money
Report a Problem at the Polls

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