Voter turnout “very, very low” in U.S. Senate race so far

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Voter turnout today for the U.S. Senate special election in Alabama has been “very, very low,” Secretary of State John Merrill said, shortly before 2 p.m.

If the trend continues Merrill is projecting between 10 and 15 percent of Alabama voters will cast votes in the Republican and Democratic primaries today. There are 3.28 million registered voters in Alabama.

Merrill said weather is not any issue in Montgomery or Birmingham.

“This is much lower than we had anticipated,” Merrill said. “We had projected turnout of 20-25 percent. I know in certain parts of the state it varies. There may be a (ballot) box in Huntsville that’s very heavy because (U.S. Rep.) Mo Brooks is from there, but in other parts of the state, another box is very light.”

Polls close at 7 p.m.

Turnout for the Nov. 8 national election was 38 percent in Alabama, Merrill said.

Most of the polling shows the Republican field being led by former Alabama Chief Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, U.S. Sen. Luther Strange – who was appointed to the seat by then-Gov. Robert Bentley in February and Brooks, the Huntsville area congressman.

There are also seven other Republicans on the ballot, Dr. Randy Brinson, Alabama Sen. Trip Pittman, Bryan Peeples, James Beretta, Joseph Breault and Mary Maxwell. Dom Gentile appears on the ballot, but he dropped out the race.

If no candidate get 50.1 percent of the vote, the runoff will be held Sept. 26.

The Democratic primary features former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones, who is the best known and best funded Democratic candidate. But most of the polling has shown newcomer Robert Kennedy Jr., a former officer in the U.S. Navy, leading the field. Kennedy is of no relation to the Massachusetts-based political dynasty.

The other Democrats on the ballot for the Senate seat are Will Boyd, Vann Caldwell, Jason Fisher, Michael Hansen, Charles Nana. Brian McGree also appears on the ballot, but he withdrew from the race.