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Democrats don’t feel like their vote ‘makes a difference’ in Alabama, says party vice chair

Voter turnout in the Yellowhammer State for this year’s midterm elections was the lowest recorded since 1986.

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, only 38.5% of registered voters went to the polls on November 8th, which equals about 1.4 million ballots cast.

Friday on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” the vice chair of the Democratic Party of Alabama, Tabitha Isner, explained why she believes many Democrats did not show up to vote this year.

“The big news I think from Tuesday is the turnout,” Isner said, “and turnout was very low in Alabama both for Democrats and Republicans, but particularly for Alabama Democrats turnout was very low. And I think the reason is that folks didn’t feel like they had races that mattered, where their vote would make a difference, and if it doesn’t feel like it makes a difference it’s hard to get yourself out of bed or take time off work to go vote in an election that’s already pre-decided.”

The Democratic leader thinks too many people in the state are accustomed to one-party rule, and believes that mindset will need to change for her party to start becoming more competitive in Alabama.

“I think part of it has to do with the culture in Alabama,” she continued, “which is so accustomed to being a one party state. So for a long time it was the Democratic Party that was the one and only with any power and a Republican would be foolish to run against a Democrat at that time. And now we have flipped and I think it’s a vicious cycle that we’ve put ourselves in where a candidate is perceived as not being viable because they don’t have money and resources and a war chest to work with, but they have trouble raising money and building support because people don’t see them as viable.”

Isner argued that expanding early voting opportunities would help encourage more people to cast a ballot.

“[I] know of several people who called the party’s hotline on Election Day because they had issues where something came up unexpectedly, they had to leave the state or they were in the hospital, and were unable to vote, and that’s not something that absentee voting addresses. You don’t know ahead of time that those things are going to happen so you can’t ask ahead of time for that early vote.”

She also explained why the Democratic Party performed much better nationally than it did in the Yellowhammer State.

“There were really a lot of important issues at stake nationally,” she argued, “and there were important issues at stake in Alabama as well, but the difference is that nationally there were races that were going to be tight. There were states that were swing states, there were districts that demographically were going to be close. In Alabama we don’t have competitive races.”

“There are only five seats in the Alabama State House that anyone could describe as competitive, and there are only two seats in the Alabama State Senate that anyone could describe as competitive,” continued Isner. “And, of course, statewide … right now we’re a red state where none of the candidates are going to be probably able to overcome that straight ticket voting.”

Yaffee is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts “The Yaffee Program” Weekdays 9-11am on WVNN. You can follow him on Twitter @Yaffee

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