Column: Voters flocking to the polls on the wrong day
by Will Heath
Oct 18, 2012 | 3078 views |  0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One of my coworkers noted this on social media last week.
“More went to see Honey Boo Boo in Pell City than turned to vote there today.”
Admittedly, that is a bit of a willful misreading of events. The crowd for the September GCW event at the Civic Center — highlighted by the appearance of “Honey Boo Boo Child” and her family — represented people from all over the state. I know of at least one person, in fact, who gathered her friends in Auburn and made the drive.
Still, it is worth noting that, out of a potential population of more than 12,000 — admittedly, I can’t say with any certainty how many of those are registered voters, but let’s pretend for the moment — only about 1,800 turned out for the runoff between the city’s two mayoral candidates.
The situation was only slightly better in Leeds, where approximately 2,400 of the city’s 10,000 residents voted in the mayoral runoff. And lest we think this an anomaly directly related to the runoff, that’s almost exactly the same number of voters that showed up for the August general election.
Those two cities are hardly unique. Trussville Mayor Gene Melton won reelection with just 1,300 votes (1,300!) in a city of more than 20,000. In Irondale, mayor Tommy Joe Alexander retained his seat with a mere 1,071 votes in his favor.
It’s disheartening, really, because — most likely — three times as many voters will turn out in a few weeks to vote in the race for the nation’s top executive office, the president. More than 30,000 voted in 2008 in St. Clair County — some in lines as long as four hours — to vote, mostly for John McCain (or, more accurately, “against Barack Obama”).
I don’t claim to know everything, or even most things. My time on earth as a registered voter has been comparatively short.
Having said that, I don’t ever recall a time when my life was affected — either directly or otherwise — by the president of the United States. Maybe you don’t care for Obama — maybe you didn’t care for George Bush — but chances are he wasn’t making a great impact on your day-to-day life, unless you’re a soldier.
Your mayor and your council and your county commissioners, though, they make an impact. They’re making decisions that affect you and the economic development of your area; talk to most people who study these things, and they’ll say there is almost a 1-1 correlation between the health of your city and the people leading it. To willfully cede that privilege to such a small percentage of a community seems like a waste. 
Hope it works out, for everybody’s sake. 

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