Elections in Alabama
|Elections in Alabama|
Elections in Alabama are authorized under the Alabama State Constitution, which establishes elections for the state level officers, cabinet, and legislature, and the election of county-level officers.
The office of the Alabama Secretary of State has an Elections Division that oversees the execution of elections under state law.
With the disfranchisement of African Americans after the American Civil War, the state became part of the "Solid South", a system in which the Democratic Party became essentially the only political party in every Southern state. For nearly 100 years, local and state elections in Alabama were decided in the Democratic Party primary, with generally only token Republican challengers running in the General Election.
Developments in the 1986 Democratic primary election led to the election of the first Republican Governor in more than a century and started Republicans on the road to political dominance in the state. One million voters cast ballots in the 1986 Democratic primary. The then-incumbent Lieutenant Governor, Bill Baxley, lost the Democratic nomination for Governor by approximately 8,000 votes to then fellow Democratic Attorney General Charles Graddick. The state Democratic party's five-member election contest committee invalidated the primary election result claiming that thousands of Republicans had "illegally" voted in the Democratic primary for Graddick and as a result they removed Graddick from the ballot. The Democratic Party then placed Baxley's name on the ballot as the Democratic candidate instead of Graddick. The voters of the state revolted at what they perceived as disenfranchisement of their right to vote and elected the Republican challenger, Guy Hunt, as Governor. Hunt had been nominated in a statewide Republican primary that had 28,000 participants compared to the 1,000,000 plus of the Democratic primary. That November Hunt became the first Republican Governor elected in Alabama since Reconstruction when he won 57 percent of the vote statewide against Baxley.
Since 1986, Republicans have won six of the seven gubernatorial elections and become increasingly competitive in Alabama politics at many levels. They currently control both seats in the U.S. Senate and six out of the state's seven congressional seats.
Two Republican Lieutenant Governors have been elected since Reconstruction, Steve Windom and Kay Ivey, the current Lieutenant Governor. Windom served as Lt. Governor under Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman. Before 2011, the last time that Alabama had a governor and Lieutenant Governor of the same party was the period between 1983 and 1987 when George Wallace was serving his fourth term as governor and Bill Baxley was serving as Lieutenant Governor; both were Democrats.
As of 2012
Republicans hold all nine seats on the Alabama Supreme Court and all ten seats on the state appellate courts. Until 1994, no Republicans held any of the court seats. This change also began, likely in part, due to the same perception by voters of Democratic party efforts to disenfranchise voters again in 1994. In that general election, the then-incumbent Chief Justice of Alabama, Ernest C. Hornsby, refused to leave office after losing the election by precisely 262 votes to Republican Perry O. Hooper, Sr.. Hornsby sued Alabama and defiantly remained in office for nearly a year before finally giving up the seat after losing a long court battle that included a decision by the very Supreme Court that he himself was the Chief Justice of. This ultimately led to a collapse of support for Democrats at the ballot box in the next three or four election cycles. The Democrats lost the last of the nineteen court seats in August 2011 with the resignation of the last Democrat on the bench.
Republicans also hold all seven of the statewide elected executive branch offices. Republicans also hold six of the eight elected seats on the Alabama State Board of Education. In 2010, Republicans took large majorities of both chambers of the state legislature giving them control of that body for the first time in 136 years. Democrats lost their last remaining statewide office in November, 2012 with the re-election defeat of the President of the Alabama Public Service Commission, thus giving Republicans all three of its seats.
In Alabama, the members of the Legislature take office immediately after the November elections, but the statewide officials, such as the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and other constitutional offices take office in the following January.
Many local offices (County Commissioners, Boards of Education, Tax Assessors, Tax Collectors, etc.) in the state are still held by Democrats. Local elections in most rural counties are generally decided in the Democratic primary and local elections in metropolitan and suburban counties are generally decided in the Republican Primary, although there are exceptions.
Alabama's 67 County Sheriffs are elected in partisan races and Democrats retain the majority of those posts. The current split as of December, 2013 is 39 Democrats, 27 Republicans, and 1 Independent (Choctaw).[full citation needed] Most of the Democratic sheriffs preside over rural and less populated counties. The majority of Republican sheriffs preside over more urban/suburban and heavily populated counties. Two Alabama counties (Montgomery and Calhoun) with a population of over 100,000 have Democratic sheriffs and five Alabama counties with a population of under 75,000 have Republican sheriffs (Autauga, Coffee, Dale, Coosa, and Blount). The state has one female sheriff (Morgan) and nine African-American sheriffs.[full citation needed]
|2012||60.55% 1,255,925||38.36% 795,696||Mitt Romney|
|2008||60.32% 1,266,546||38.80% 813,479||John McCain|
|2004||62.46% 1,176,394||36.84% 693,933||George W. Bush|
|2000||56.47% 944,409||41.59% 695,602||George W. Bush|
|1996||50.12% 769,044||43.16% 662,165||Bob Dole|
|1992||47.65% 804,283||40.88% 690,080||George Bush|
|1988||59.17% 815,576||39.86% 549,506||George Bush|
|1984||60.54% 872,849||38.28% 551,899||Ronald Reagan|
|1980||48.75% 654,192||47.45% 636,730||Ronald Reagan|
|1976||42.61% 504,070||55.73% 659,170||Jimmy Carter|
|1972||72.43% 728,701||25.54% 256,923||Richard Nixon|
|1968*||13.99% 146,923||18.72% 196,579||George Wallace (I)|
|1964||69.45% 479,085||30.55% 210,732||Barry Goldwater|
|1960||42.16% 237,981||56.39% 318,303||John F. Kennedy|
|*State won by George Wallace
of the American Independent Party,
at 65.86%, or 691,425 votes
From 1876 through 1956, Alabama supported only Democratic presidential candidates, by large margins. There were only two exceptions; the 1928 elections in which the Democrats won by a much smaller margin than normal due to Anti-Catholic prejudices against the Democratic Candidate Al Smith, and the 1948 election when Alabama, along with Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina, voted for Strom Thurmond of the pro-segregation States Right's Democratic Party. In 1960, the Democrats won with John F. Kennedy on the ballot. However, six of the state's 11 Democratic electors were members of the unpledged elector movement, and gave their electoral votes as a protest to Harry Byrd.
In 1964, the state swung over dramatically to support Republican Barry Goldwater, who carried the state with an unheard-of 69 percent of the vote, carrying all but five counties. He was the first Republican to carry the state since 1872. Like much of the Deep South, Alabama's voters turned violently on President Lyndon Johnson in the wake of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In the 1968 presidential election, Alabama supported native son and American Independent Party candidate George Wallace over both Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey. Wallace was the official Democratic candidate in Alabama, while Humphrey was the National Democratic nominee. In 1976, Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter from Georgia carried the state, the region, and the nation, but Democratic control of the region slipped after that.
Alabama does not register voters by party and in several recent statewide elections Republican turnout in statewide primaries now exceeds that of the Democrats, Alabama is now reckoned as a Republican stronghold at both the federal and state level, although Democrats still retain a slim majority in many local offices (sheriffs, county commissioners, etc.). The state has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1980, and Democrats have not seriously contested the state since. Republicans have also done increasingly well in Senate and House elections; they have held a majority of the state's congressional delegation and both Senate seats since 1997. In 2012, Democrats lost the only remaining statewide office the party still held giving Republicans control of all 10 state constitutional offices. The GOP also has won all 19 statewide court seats. In 2010, Republicans won large majorities in both chambers of the Alabama Legislature ending 136 years of Democrat rule; see Dixiecrat.
In 2004, George W. Bush won Alabama's nine electoral votes by a margin of 25 percentage points with 62.5% of the vote, mostly white voters. The 11 counties that voted Democratic were Black Belt counties, where African Americans are the majority racial group.
The state's two U.S. senators are Jefferson B. Sessions III and Richard C. Shelby, both Republicans. Sessions was re-elected in 2014 without Democratic Party opposition, the first time since the Civil War that the Democrat Party failed to contest one of the U.S. Senate seats.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, the state is represented by seven members, six Republicans (Bradley Byrne, Mike D. Rogers, Robert Aderholt, Morris J. Brooks, Martha Roby, and Gary Palmer) and one Democrat Terri Sewell).
Summary of elections
The following table displays, by color, the parties of elected officials in the U.S. state of Alabama from 1817 to the current year. As such, it may indicate the political party strength at any given time. The officers listed include:
- Lieutenant Governor
- Secretary of State
- Attorney General
- Comptroller of Public Accounts/State Auditor
- State Treasurer
- Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries
The table also indicates the historical party composition in the:
- State Senate
- State House of Representatives
- State delegation to the U.S. Senate
- State delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives
For years in which a presidential election was held, the table indicates which party's nominees received the state's electoral votes.
The parties are as follows: American (A), Democratic (D), Democratic-Republican (DR), Greenback (G), Independent (I), Jacksonian (J), Military (M), (N), no partyPopulist (P), Republican (R), Southern Democratic (SD) Whig (W), and . a tie or coalition within a group of elected officials
- Stovall, Cotter, & Fisher, Alabama Political Almanac, p. 260, 1995
- "Sue Bell Cobb considering running for governor - Breaking News from The Birmingham News - al.com". Blog.al.com. 2009-05-02. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- "Commissioners". Psc.state.al.us. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- Special (2008-11-05). "Lucy Baxley wins Alabama Public Service Commission presidency, but recount possible". Birmingham News via al.com. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- Jeff Amy, Press-Register. "Public Service Commission: Twinkle Cavanaugh, Terry Dunn join GOP sweep". al.com. Retrieved 2011-06-01.
- Lee, McDowell (2009). "Alabama's Legislative Process". State of Alabama.
- "2006 Gubernatorial Democratic Primary Election Results - Alabama". Uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- "2006 Gubernatorial Republican Primary Election Results - Alabama". Uselectionatlas.org. 2007-02-15. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- Alabama Sheriff's Association
- "Association". Alabama Sheriffs. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- "2007-2011 Alabama Sheriffs". Alabamasheriffs.com. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- Alabama Sheriffs Association
- "1968 Presidential General Election Results – Alabama". Uselectionatlas.org. 1968-11-05. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- With the adoption of the state Constitution of 1819, the auditor became the comptroller of public accounts elected annually by a joint vote of both houses of the General Assembly. The Constitution of 1868 changed the title of the office to auditor and established a process by which the officeholder would be chosen by the electors of the state every four years.
- Governor of Alabama Territory appointed by President James Monroe.
- Treasurer of Alabama Territory.
- Delegate from Alabama Territory.
- Secretary of Alabama Territory.
- Died in office.
- As president of the state senate, filled unexpired term.
- Resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate.
- Resigned following appointment to the Circuit Court bench.
- Appointed to fill vacancy.
- Democrat who opposed party leaders and ran as an independent.
- Arrested by Union forces soon after the American Civil War ended in May 1865; was released a few weeks later.
- Provisional governor appointed by the Union occupation; between Watts's arrest and Parsons' appointment, Alabama had no governor, instead being under direct rule of General George Henry Thomas.
- The United States Congress stripped Patton of most of his authority in March 1867, after which time the state was effectively under the control of Major General Wager Swayne.
- Military governor appointed during Reconstruction; though Patton was still officially governor, he was mostly a figurehead. The term start date given is the date of the first Reconstruction Act, which placed Alabama into the Third Military District; all references only say "March 1867."
- Robert Lindsay was sworn into office on November 26, 1870, but William H. Smith refused to leave his seat for two weeks, claiming Lindsay was fraudulently elected, finally leaving office on December 8, 1870, when a court so ordered.
- Position of lieutenant governor was eliminated in 1875, effective at the end of the then-present term in November 1876, and was reestablished upon the adoption of the Alabama Constitution in 1901.
- Initially appointed to fill vacancy, later was elected in his own right.
- Acting governor for 26 days. Jelks was president of the state Senate when William J. Samford was out of state at the start of his term seeking medical treatment.
- As president of the state Senate, filled unexpired term and was subsequently elected in his own right.
- Gubernatorial terms were increased from two to four years during Jelks' governorship; his first term was filling out Samford's two-year term, and he was elected in 1902 for a four-year term.
- Acting governor from April 25, 1904 until March 5, 1905 while Jelks was out of state for medical treatment.
- Acting governor for two days—July 10 and 11, 1924—while Brandon was out of state for 21 days as a delegate to the 1924 Democratic National Convention.
- Wallace left the state for 20 days for medical treatment; as lieutenant governor, Brewer became acting governor on July 25, 1967. Wallace returned to the state later that day.
- As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term.
- Acting governor for 32 days, from June 5 until July 7, 1972. Beasley was lieutenant governor when Wallace spent 52 days in Maryland for medical treatment following an assassination attempt while campaigning for president of the United States.
- Removed from office upon being convicted of illegally using campaign and inaugural funds to pay personal debts; he was later pardoned by the state parole board based on innocence.
- Resigned to accept U.S. Senate seat.
- Switched parties from Democratic to Republican in December 1994.
- Bennett ran as a Democrat in 1994 and as a Republican in 1998. He might have switched parties between those elections.