Alabama Republicans seek to extend their current lock on all offices statewide

Republicans are looking to extend their current lock on all statewide offices in Alabama in the face of opposition from the Democratic and Libertarian parties.

The race to replace U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, 88, who is retiring after six terms, is the marquee contest.

GOP nominee Katie Britt faces Democratic pastor Will Boyd and Libertarian economist John Sophocleus. Britt is Shelby’s former chief of staff and the former head of a state lobby, the Business Council of Alabama.

Britt emerged the victor in a hard-fought GOP primary that saw former President Donald Trump switch his support to her after rescinding his endorsement of Rep. Mo Brooks. If elected, Britt would be the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama.

Democrats are continuing to rebuild after the 2020 defeat of U.S. Sen Doug Jones, whose upset win in 2017 stunned the nation. During the 2018 midterms, few Democratic candidates topped 40% of the vote in statewide contests.

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The state’s constitutional, legislative and congressional offices will also be decided.

Libertarians are on the ballot for the first time in 20 years and are running dozens of candidates in state and legislative races.

Democrats are hoping to make legislative gains for the first time in over a decade by flipping one or more GOP-held districts but Republicans expect to maintain lopsided majorities in the House and Senate.

Alabama voters will also decide on a revamp of the Alabama Constitution, which was written in 1901 to enshrine white supremacy and disenfranchise Black and poor white voters. The proposal would remove racist language, such as provisions mandating segregated schools, and reorganize a document that has been amended nearly 1,000 times. Proponents say the intent is to modernize and streamline the unwieldy document, although it does not make policy changes.

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U.S. Republican Senate candidate for Alabama Katie Britt speaks during an election night watch event in Montgomery, Alabama, on May 24, 2022. 

U.S. Republican Senate candidate for Alabama Katie Britt speaks during an election night watch event in Montgomery, Alabama, on May 24, 2022.  (Andi Rice/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:

Election Night

Polls close at 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET).

How Alabama Votes

Voters in Alabama can cast a ballot in person or by absentee ballot, which can be mailed or returned in person. Mailed absentee ballots must be received by noon on Election Day, and hand-delivered ballots must be returned the day prior to the election. The state does not have early in-person voting. On Election Day, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Decision Notes

The AP may call a statewide or U.S. House race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less, if we determine the lead is too large for a recount to change the outcome. In Alabama, an automatic recount is required when a public office or statewide ballot measure is decided by 0.5% or less in a general election.

The AP will not call down-ballot races on election night if the margin between the top two candidates is less than 2% or if the leading candidate is within 2% of the 50% runoff threshold. AP will revisit those races later in the week to confirm there aren’t enough outstanding votes left to count that could change the outcome.

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What Else Should I Know?

Straight-ticket voting is prevalent in Alabama. Nearly two-thirds of voters cast straight party tickets in the 2018 midterms.

Q: What Did We Learn From the Primary?

A: Primaries remain where the heaviest spending and campaigning occurs.

Q: What’s Changed Since the Pandemic Election of 2020?

A: Alabama has returned to normal operating rules, abandoning the pandemic-related changes that made it easier to vote by absentee ballot and allowed early voting of sorts in 2020 when some circuit clerk offices opened on Saturday.

Q: What Do Turnout and Advance Vote Look Like?

A: An estimated 1.65 to 1.84 million people will vote in the general election, according to a projection from Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill. That represents a moderate turnout of approximately 45 to 50% of the state’s 3,686,481 registered voters.

Q: How Long Does Counting Usually Take?

A: It varies. Counts can go late, but wide victory margins often allow races projections to be done earlier in the evening. In the high-turnout presidential election in 2020, Alabama’s vote count reached 90 percent at 3:34 a.m. the next morning.

Q: What Are the Pitfalls With Early Returns?

A: Democratic votes in Alabama are often concentrated in the state’s cities, especially in and around Birmingham. Counting there can sometimes take longer. Polarized voting patterns mean some counties are heavily Republican or heavily Democratic. Caution should be taken with early returns because the timing of reports from a few large counties can skew early returns.

Q: What Happens After Tuesday?

A: An automatic recount is required when a public office or statewide ballot measure is decided by 0.5% or less in a general election. Otherwise, election results will be certified later in November

Read Up on the Races

Quotable

“Our state constitution is reflective of who we are. Those racist provisions in that constitution, and those outdated provisions — we hope that’s not who we are. We definitely know we are not a 1901 Alabama, and we need to reflect that in the document.” — Rep. Merika Coleman.

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Parting Thoughts

Alabama has largely been a GOP-dominated state in recent years, but it will be interesting to note the performance of Democratic candidates and if the party is gaining or losing ground. That includes legislative candidates and if any seats flip because of demographic shifts and backlash to hardline GOP policies, such as the state’s total abortion ban. Another thing to watch for: how many votes Libertarian candidates draw as they return to the ballot.

The ratification of the Constitution recompilation is aimed to make the unwieldy document more user-friendly and strip Jim Crow-era language, but it does not make the policy changes that some reformers have sought. It will continue to centralize power in Montgomery. Alabama will also still have the longest constitution at more than three times the length of the next closest state, according to an analysis from the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama.

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