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Poor turnout expected again at polls

Staff Writer

June 26, 2000 10 PM

Few of Alabama’s registered voters are expected to go to the polls today for the primary runoffs, but that hasn’t stopped candidates from trying.

Those whose political futures cling to what happens today have spent the past three weeks campaigning, most of which involved urging voters to actually vote.

Alabama Secretary of State Jim Bennett has predicted less than 10 percent and "probably closer to 5 percent" of Alabama’s 2.3 million voters will cast ballots in the runoffs.

Bennett said a record low in turnout would be no surprise to him. At this time, the record low turnout was set in March when only 7 percent of the state’s voters went to the polls in the special election on the franchise tax constitutional amendment.

Pike County’s numbers are not expected to be all that high, either.

Only 25 percent of the 17,775 registered voters in Pike County voted in the Democratic and Republican Primaries on June 6. But, that figure was five percent better than the state average for that election.

Bennett has said turnout for the runoffs will be driven by local races because the Democratic Party has no statewide offices and the Republican Party only has two.

Locally, three Democratic runoffs will determine who will be on the Nov. 7 General Election ballot.

Voters in Pike County Commission District 4 will vote to decide between incumbent Ray Goodson and Terry Sneed. Goodson received 49.70 percent of the votes to make it a runoff with Sneed, who garnered 33.01 percent on June 6.

Incumbent Charlie Harris is running for re-election to the Pike County Commission District 5 seat and will face Jeff Baker in the runoff. Harris received 49.94 percent of the votes on June 6 with Baker coming in second with 27.35 percent of the votes.

The Pike County Board of Education District 5 race results forced a runoff between incumbent Willo D. Baker, who received 40.56 percent of the vote and herbert Reynolds, who received 30.99 percent.

As a reminder, Pike County Probate Judge Bill Stone said not all Pike County voters will have a local race on which to vote.

Statewide, there will be two Republican runoffs and a Democratic runoff.

The GOP runoff for the Court of Civil Appeals puts Ralph Long against Craig Pittman. Long, 47, is a Hoover policeman and attorney and the son of state Criminal Appeals Court Judge Frank Long. Pittman, 43, is a Mobile attorney who represented the state docks during Gov. Fob James’ administration.

Greg Shaw, a 43-year-old staff attorney at the Alabama Supreme Court, will face 36-year-old Tony Riley, a Muscle Shoals attorney, in the Republican runoff for the Court of Criminal Appeals. Both are making their first bid for public office in this race.

The District 5 State Board of Education race is also in a runoff on the Democratic ticket. Ella Beatrice Bell, 52, is a state mental health agency employee from Montgomery. She will face Latosha Brown, 30, the director of the 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement in Selma.

Runoffs are held when no candidate in a primary race gets 50 percent of the vote plus one. The top two candidates advance to a runoff, where the winner must have a majority.

Only 11 states conduct primary runoffs: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas.