Voter turnout disappointing during municipal elections

FROM STAFF REPORTS / Editorial 

The combination of bad weather and COVID-19 didn’t do municipalities any favors on Tuesday, Aug. 25, as voters looked to cast their votes for mayoral and city council candidates across Shelby County.

Despite several cities having not only contested races for mayoral seats, but no incumbent running, voter turnout was low for such a big election cycle.

At the conclusion of this year’s municipal election, Alabaster, Helena, Montevallo, Vincent and Wilsonville all now have a new mayor, while there will be a runoff for mayor in Columbiana.

In addition to that, there was opposition in Hoover and Pelham for the mayoral seat as well.

Out of those cities, five had approximately a 15-percent municipal election voter turnout, while three had an 18-percent or higher turnout.

The highest voter turnout came in Vincent with close to 25 percent, while Wilsonville was near 20 percent and Columbiana was at 18 percent.

With 11 different municipalities in Shelby County holding an election, 10 had a voter turnout less than 20 percent, while eight were at 15 percent or less.

In Shelby County, we’ve come to expect better.

During most elections where the county votes as a whole for representatives, governor, president, etc., we have one of the highest voter turnouts in the state.

Being the biggest election since COVID-19 started, it was a good test to see how the General Election will go in November, but it’s still disappointing to see the low numbers at the poll.

Whether it was the weather or the virus, there is no telling, but it doesn’t really matter because absentee ballots have been available for everyone for months.

There were several elections where a candidate missed winning outright or missed joining a runoff because of a mere three votes or less.

Your vote may not normally feel as important when voting for something like president, though it is, but in a local election where you have the chance to decide who will be leading your city and making decisions regarding its infrastructure for the next four years, it’s imperative to vote.

This year many dropped the ball in doing so, but hopefully it’s a wakeup call for any runoff elections on Oct. 6 as well as November’s General Election.