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Downballot candidates, amendments increase midterm significance

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Scott Shelton

Staff Writer

During the midterm elections, the state of Alabama won’t elect a senator or a new president, so it might be tempting to stay at home on Nov. 6 and say it doesn’t matter.

However, I believe we should care about every election because local and state elections affect us just as much as national elections. 

The race with the most significance for Alabamians this cycle will be the governor’s race between incumbent Kay Ivey and Democratic challenger Walt Maddox. 

But there are also other important races that most Alabama citizens may miss on the ballot. 

In Pike County, there will be 31 state and county races on the ballot on Nov. 6, and 20 of those will be run by an unopposed candidate. 

In terms of statewide races, there are consequential offices up for election, including state attorney general, secretary of state and four Alabama Supreme Court seats, as well as the seat for chief justice. 

Besides the races, there are four statewide amendments to the Alabama Constitution that are up for the voters to decide, and two of them could land our state in a federal court.

The first statewide amendment on the ballot would authorize the display of the Ten Commandments on state property. 

For reference, former Chief Justice Roy Moore was removed from the Alabama Supreme Court in 2003 for displaying a Ten Commandments monument. 

The second amendment on the ballot deals with abortion. If passed, the state will “recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life,” and the right to abortion will not be protected. 

In the past — as recently as August — Alabama has tried to pass laws restricting abortion, only to be struck down by a federal court. 

Midterms usually see a lower turnout than a presidential-election year. In 2014, 39.8 percent of Alabama voters voted in the midterm, but in the 2016 election, 66.8 percent of voters showed up to the polls. 

If less than half of our state’s registered voters show up to vote, we’re letting a minority of our people control local and state politics. 

If the majority of registered voters turn out on Election Day, we will have representatives whom an actual majority of the voting population wants. 

The same goes for the statewide amendments. How do we truly know if these amendments are what the state wants if fewer than half of voters show up?

Oct. 22 is the last day to register to vote in the state of Alabama, and I encourage everyone to take a look at the races on the ballot prior to the election so we can all make an informed decision on Election Day.