- Cullman, Alabama

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March 13, 2012

Moderate turnout, or better, expected today

CULLMAN — Decent weather, a robust absentee turnout, and a lot on the line — both for party candidates and local voters — means voter turnout today could be brisk.

Until the polls close this evening at 7 p.m., and until the ballots have been counted, there’s no way to be sure. But, said Cullman County circuit clerk Robert Bates Monday, a moderate-to-strong local voter turnout wouldn’t surprise him at all.

“Based on previous elections, it looks like it might be pretty good; we might have around 17,000,” said Bates, basing the estimate on the number of absentee ballots his office issued for today’s primary.

“Taking it back to the 2010 election — the last one we had — and comparing it with absentees we had in that election, it’s very close this time, in terms of numbers,” he said. “We had about 17,600 [voters] in that election. And the number of absentees we have this time is within three or four ballots of being the same amount we had then, so I think it’s going to be pretty close to the same number.”

Bates added, though, that any prediction based on absentee voting tendencies in previous election cycles isn’t scientific. With a revamped political calendar, a Republican-heavy local ballot, a presidential nomination on the line this time around, as well as numerous other factors, the final number of local voters who visit polls today simply can’t be known until day’s end.

There’s a lot at stake for local voters, with party races that have both local and national implications on the ballot, as well as one separate local issue — a half-cent sales tax referendum for public schools — that will affect residents countywide. And, Hanceville voters will decide today whether to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages in their city in a separate municipal referendum.

A few things to note as you head to the polls today:

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