Local Lawmaker Aims To Scale Back Number Of Runoff Elections

Posted on: 9:45 pm, February 11, 2013, by , updated on: 08:05pm, February 11, 2013

voting

HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-Could runoff elections soon be a thing of the past in Alabama?

State Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison) is drafting a bill which would radically reshape how primaries work in Alabama by setting guidelines that would likely eliminate most runoff races for state and county offices.

Under current state law, a runoff is automatically ordered if no primary candidate wins at least fifty percent plus one of total ballots cast. The top two vote getters then proceed to a rematch that’s normally held within a few weeks of the primary. Rep. Ball’s proposal would lower the runoff requirement to just thirty-five percent, a figure that he says would weed out the vast majority of primary rematches which often cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

“I would imagine if more people wanted them [runoffs], more people would vote in them,” said Ball, who cited figures showing voter turnout as low as five percent in some recent runoff races. “It’s not uncommon to have as low as a five percent turnout in these things…I think with this threshold it would change very few outcomes, but I think it would eliminate the majority of prmary runoffs.”

Ball plans to formally introduce the runoff legislation within the next few weeks. He said the current tab on a runoff election for statewide office is around $3 million alone, with other races on a regional and local scale also proving to be costly.

Alabama is one of just eight states that use the runoff system. The proposal would not effect runoffs for municipal offices like mayor and city councilman.