Tuscaloosa voter turnout lower than Greene County, state

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By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Kyle Hamrick

Registered voters in Tuscaloosa County outnumber registered voters in Greene County almost 22 to 1. Yet, based on the latest numbers from the Office of the Secretary of State, Greene County voters seem more likely to participate in elections.

In the Alabama Primary Election on Tuesday, May 24, 44.5% of Greene County voters dropped their votes into ballot boxes. This equates to 2,955 ballots from a pool of 6,640 registered voters.

On the other hand, only 16.7% of Tuscaloosa County voters exercised their civic rights, casting 24,553 votes from a pool of 146,275.

Even the statewide voter turnout of 23.35% or 849,773 ballots was higher than in Tuscaloosa County.

Secretary of State John Merrill attributed the difference in participation to a difference in interest.

“Every race that was on the ballot for a Tuscaloosa County voter on May 24 was a race related to somebody that they may know or they may know something about,” Merrill explained in a phone interview, “but not that they have a personal investment in.”

While the candidates on the ballot would represent Tuscaloosans on the state and national level, Merrill said Tuscaloosa County voters would not have as direct representation from those elected as they would from their local officeholders.

“Whereas in Greene County,” Merrill continued, the races for sheriff, county commission and school board were “very competitive.”

The competition for those local seats where Greene County voters would be directly represented, he said, contributed to the county’s high voter turnout.

The difference is not, Merrill said, part of a larger trend of declining participation in elections.

More people are moving in and out of Tuscaloosa County than they are in Greene County, he said. The population in Tuscaloosa County has increased, while the population in Greene County has decreased over the last decade, according to the United States Census Bureau.

“I just think that what you’re seeing with the lack of participation in Tuscaloosa County is a lack of investment, and that number’s going to go down lower than that in the runoff.”

For more information on how Alabamans voted, click here.

Stay tuned, also, for the second part of this story.

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