By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Nearly two-thirds of Alabamians voted a straight-ticket — either all Republican or all Democratic— when they went to the polls on Tuesday, a record number that reflects political polarization and likely boosted Republicans in their easy sweep of state races.
According to the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, about 1.1 million of the 1.7 million ballots cast on Tuesday were straight-ticket votes, where voters checked one box to vote for all of a party’s candidates.
Of those straight- ticket votes, 661,898 were for the Republican Party and 460,408 were for Democratic Party. Another 135 were for the Libertarian Party.
Secretary of State John Merrill said that is a record high for straight party ticket voting in the state.
“This is a very high, high number,” Merrill said. “It tells me that people are becoming more polarized.”
Republicans swept all statewide and contested congressional races, holding Democrats to about 40 percent of the vote. Republicans also picked up six seats in the Alabama Legislature.
Alabama is one of eight states that allow or offer straight-ticket voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A number of states have abolished the option in recent years.
Political scientist Jess Brown said Wednesday that party label and national politics appeared to be increasingly on voters’ minds as they went to the polls.
According to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate and nonvoters, more than half of Alabama voters said a reason for their vote was to express support for or opposition to President Donald Trump
Thirty-seven percent of voters said a reason for their vote was to express support for Trump, and 21 percent said they voted to express opposition to Trump. By comparison, 42 percent of Alabama voters said Trump was not a factor they considered while casting their votes.
Immigration was at the forefront of voters’ minds: 31 percent named it as the most important issue facing the nation in this year’s midterm elections.