Record-breaking number of registered voters lead to high Morgan County turnout
By Cassie Kuhn
Special to the Enquirer
Many Morgan County voters waited in long lines Tuesday, some more than two hours, as the county had a record number of registered voters, and the presidential race energized turnout.
At Hartselle’s Sparkman Civic Center, which is the county’s largest precinct with more than 7,800 registered voters, many voters remained in line at 7 p.m. They were allowed to vote provided they joined the line before polls closed.
Compared to 85,606 voters who were registered as of Tuesday, the county had 75,778 registered voters in 2016 and 70,787 in 2012. The county’s official turnout wasn’t available early Tuesday night, but Probate Judge Greg Cain said it could possibly surpass the 67% turnout in 2016 and 70% in 2012.
Cain said Tuesday afternoon the only issues at polling places were those that occur at every election, like ballot machines becoming jammed, but that there was “nothing out of the ordinary” impacting polling places this year.
Adonis Bailey, chairman of the Morgan County Board of Registrars, said the number of calls she received from poll workers with questions was an indicator of the high turnout at Morgan County polling places.
“I can tell you from the calls coming in here from the different polling places (with) questions, everybody says it’s record turnout at all these precincts,” Bailey said Tuesday afternoon. “At the end of the day I’m going to be very tired, but I’m going to be very happy that this many people exercised their right to vote.”
Lines at polls
Macayla Hopper said she waited in line to vote at Sparkman Civic Center in Hartselle for about an hour. “I wanted to stay the whole way, even if it was more than an hour.
I voted for (former Vice President Joe) Biden, just because I feel like he’s the better candidate for the United States,” Hopper said.
Joyce Payne, who also voted at Sparkman Civic Center, said she cast her vote for President Donald Trump because her family owns a business. “(My husband) owned his own business, so we know what paying taxes and everything is in a business,” Payne said. “A lot of people think you own your own business, you get rich. No, you put your money back in the company.”
Jenny Herbin said she waited two hours and 10 minutes to vote at Decatur Baptist Church. She said four years ago, she waited only 15 to 20 minutes. Herbin said she voted for Trump.
“I don’t want socialism. I don’t want any of the things that (Biden) stands for,” Herbin said.
Gwendolyn Weymon said she voted for Biden because she thinks he will unite the country.
“I think he has the most valuable principles for this country,” Weymon said. “We are the people of the United States and we’re united, and we don’t want to be divided. We want a leader that’s going to lead all of the people.”
Gary Jones said he didn’t mind the line at Decatur Baptist Church.
“The wait wasn’t that bad. The line moved. It’s just part of life. Voting is so important that we all should do it,” Jones said.
Mark Robinson, 65, a Trump supporter, waited two hours.
“I’d do it all over again, too. I’d stand in line six hours to vote. That was the easy part. Getting this nation straight again will be the difficult part,” he said.
Some voters said they felt safe at the polls and felt comfortable voting despite the COVID-19 pandemic, but some were concerned about the virus.
On whether he felt safe voting in-person during a pandemic, Earl Griffin said, “Well not really, but I’m going to vote.”
He said economic issues were his main motivation for voting.
“Trump ain’t doing it right. Trump is all about Trump, and the rich,” he said.
Black Voters Matter
Lines were shorter at Carrie Matthews Recreation Center, where Black Voters Matter volunteers Rodney Gordon, Jordyn Jones and Ameillion Ragland said they wanted to promote voting.
“We’re really just trying to encourage people to get out and vote so people know that their vote matters,” Jones, 17, said.
Ragland, also 17, said some people think their vote won’t make a difference, but that every vote counts. She said she enjoys working at the polls “so people know that they’re not alone.”
Gordon said he voted for Biden. He referred to today’s political climate as a “modern day ’60s,” and said this is the most divided Americans have ever been.
“I’m not a Trump supporter at all. I voted for (vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala) Harris and Biden because they can’t be no worse than this. I’m 56 years old. America is in a position now that we’ve never seen before. I mean we’ve never experienced this type of rhetoric,” Gordon said.
Gordon said health care is an important issue for him.
“Now why would you take (away) Obamacare in the time of a pandemic?” he said. “Does that make any sense?”