As voting began Tuesday, Lauderdale County Probate Judge Will Motlow was seeing a pleasant pattern taking shape.
“We were having reports of polling places being busy from the time they started and no let up,” said Motlow. “There were lines of voters at some polling places.”
He said those early reports from poll workers indicated the turnout was going to be better than anticipated.
“And it was,” Motlow said.
The county had 13 boxes, including the absentee box, where more than 1,000 people voted.
“That’s amazing; that shows people were interested in the elections. They got out and voted,” Motlow said.
Locally, the turnout was heavier than the last mid-term election in 2014.
Election officials indicated 49.6 percent of the registered voters in northwest Alabama voted during Tuesday’s general election.
Franklin County Probate Judge Barry Moore said he had a 48-percent turnout.
“That’s good and I’m pleased, but it could always be better,” Moore said.
More than 51 percent of the registered voters in Colbert County turned out.
“I was blown away with the turnout,” Colbert County Probate Judge Daniel Rosser said. “I was all over the county Tuesday going to the different polling places, and everywhere I went there was a number of people voting. It was great; it was a special election."
All told, 60,941 people in Colbert, Franklin and Lauderdale counties voted out of 122,986 registered voters.
In the 2014 mid-term general elections, 49,569 of the 105,164 registered voters cast ballots.
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said the Shoals area turnout was in line with what happened across the state.
Merrill, who had predicted a turnout of 35 to 40 percent, said he was happy to be wrong.
“It’s going to end up somewhere between 45 and 50 percent overall,” he said Wednesday.
That is a big jump from the 39.8 percent that voted in the 2014 general election.
“Tuesday was an amazing day for the voters of this state,” Merrill said.
He said voters proved once again it is local races that drive higher turnouts.
“When you look at the turnout, it wasn’t the statewide races that brought people out, it was the local races, the county races, the state legislative races,” Merrill said.
He said Tuesday’s turnout shows that when people get interested in a race, they vote.
“When there are candidates they want to support, they get out and vote,” Merrill said. “Hopefully, this is a trend that will continue for upcoming elections.”