Low voter turnout expected for special election - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Low voter turnout expected for special election

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Tuesday's constitutional amendment vote is a stand alone election. That meaning nothing else is on the ballot. 

Certainly, nothing is written in stone, but political scientists say conventional wisdom is that few show up for a special election like this.

Here is the big unknown. Who will come out to vote?

Dr. Natalie Davis, a political scientist and professor at Birmingham Southern College says, do not expect long lines at the polls Tuesday.

"Special elections have a problem with turnout, very few people will vote on Tuesday," says Davis. "I would be very surprised if turnout was greater than 25%. So, who's going to come out for that? People who are really for it or really against it."

Dr. Davis doesn't hold out a lot of hope for passage of the constitutional amendment.

"In a referenda, you can say 'no'. And for voters who are distrustful of government, who believe government doesn't operate in their interest, this is a great opportunity to say 'no' and we have a lot of those voters in Alabama."

Davis knows that some do support transferring millions to the general fund.

"Those in favor of the amendment by and large, are called the 'good government' people, they believe the functions of government are important. That these programs and expenditures are important to the state," Davis explains.

Davis says one point that is clear. Tuesday's vote, is not 'party driven'. She draws comparisons between Tuesday's vote, and the Alabama lottery referendum in 1999.

The vote went down in a landslide.

"On one hand, you had conservatives who voted against it because they say 'I believe the lottery is gambling, it violates my religious principals' and so on.   On the other side, you had a bunch of liberals voting against it, because they believed it was a regressive tax on the poor," Davis states.

As for Tuesday's vote.

"You have people against it saying, 'I really think those (government) programs need to be cut anyway, so lets just not have it," Davis says.  "Then you have those on the other side who might vote against it as well, the progressive community. Who say, it's time for the legislature and the governor to stand up for its responsibilities."

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