Jefferson County Board of Registrars Chairman Barry Stephenson said Wednesday that Tuesday’s election ran smoothly with “a few minor glitches,” despite long lines at most precincts.
Those standing in one of those long lines in Vestavia Hills had some unexpected entertainment to help pass the time. Voters reported a middle-aged man dressed in a baby costume with a large Trump head cavorting across the street.
“I just told them that as long as he was not too close to the polls, they were on their own,” Stephenson said.
Earlier on Tuesday, he said, “We had one instance of over-zealous campaign workers, closer than 30 feet (from the polling place). We backed them up, and that was it.” That occurred in Tarrant City.
Stephenson said that the county will be looking at adding precincts to remedy the long lines. “This year we were having to deal with COVID, as well,” he said.
“Overall, our voters were patient and considerate of one another,” Stephenson said.
On the state level, Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill said absentee votes were still being counted in some counties as of late Wednesday. He did not say when he expected the vote count to be finished.
At that time, voter turnout was just shy of 62% of the state’s registered voters. The record for the percentage of registered voters who turned out to vote is 76%, a milestone reached when Bill Clinton in 1992 beat George H.W. Bush for president.
However, Tuesday’s vote did set a record for number of votes cast, with 2,293,823. That number has risen each election in recent years as more people have been registered to vote.
“Following the final certification of results, I remain confident we will have shattered the state’s previous record for voter participation – with having more than 2.5 million ballots cast,” Merrill said.
The state also shattered the record for absentee votes, with more than 300,000 cast.
Merrill commended all who worked the polls, deeming their effort “a supreme success.”
“County probate judges, circuit clerks, absentee election managers, registrars and sheriffs have worked around the clock to see that Alabamians are provided with safe, sanitary and secure voting options,” Merrill said.
And he did not forget a particular group of workers without whom all that effort would have been wasted in some parts of the state.
“In addition, we are grateful for the utility workers who expeditiously worked to restore power and provide generators to Alabama’s numerous polling places,” he said.
Despite having to work around COVID precautions, election workers handling absentee voting have spent “countless hours processing and mailing applications and ballots,” he said.
He also praised the “sanitary polling places and mostly quick voting lines.”
“Our poll workers should be commended for stepping up to serve our country and protecting our democracy despite the ongoing pandemic, he said.
“While poll workers worked as efficiently and effectively as possible to process the high volume of voters, we are greatly appreciative of the patience exhibited by voters who waited in line to cast their ballot,” he said.
More election coverage from BirminghamWatch