After three busy weeks of early and advance voting and a swamped Saturday session, Columbia County elections officials are counting down to today’s end to the election season.
More than 13,000 voters cast ballots within the first 11 days, a higher total than had voted up to that point during the far longer early voting period in 2008 – which also didn’t include Saturday voting, said Columbia County Board of Elections Registration Coordinator Nancy Gay.
“Saturday voting appears to have been a favorite among the voters,” Gay said. “We received nothing but good reviews and ‘thank yous.’”
Based on additional early votes more than 2,100 absentee ballots that have been returned, Gay projected more than 20,000 votes will have been cast early. That could signal a total election turnout approaching 80 percent, compared to just less than 77 percent in 2008.
While Gay did not have any election day turnout numbers by 2 p.m. today, she did report that all precincts seemed to be running smoothly and anecdotal information seemed to indicate high numbers.
“Everything is rocking and rolling along,” she said. “And my impression is that it’s been a heavy turnout.”
Candidates also were counting down to the finale, including 12th District Republican congressional hopeful Lee Anderson.
During a press conference on Oct. 30 at his Evans headquarters with South Carolina U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, Anderson said his hopes for winning the district’s Augusta-Columbia County area hinge on familiarity.
“I think the people here in Richmond County and Columbia County know me the best because I have lived here my whole life,” Anderson said. “I’ve lived at 160 Louisville Road. I have been elected to the school board, the County Commission and state representative from 160 Louisville Road.
“I have not moved three times just to get elected,” he added, a jab at incumbent Democrat John Barrow, whose residence has been drawn out of the district during reapportionment twice.
While early and advance voting had been limited to just three sites, all of the county’s 46 precincts are open today from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. for the final day of voting.
In addition to the 12th District congressional race, which covers most of Columbia County, the presidential election is at the top of this year’s ballot, along with state Public Service Commission races.
No Democrats filed for the partisan races in Columbia County this year, so the only contested local race is district attorney, a post that spans three counties. Incumbent Republican Ashley Wright faces a challenge from Democrat Evita Paschall.
Voters also will voice their opinion on two state constitutional amendments and decide a local question that could impose term limits on county commissioners.
Gay urges voters to confirm their registration in advance, especially if they registered by mail, by going to the Board of Elections page via the county’s Web site, www.columbiacountyga.gov.
Sample ballots also are available, specifically tailored for each voting precinct.
Voters must bring a government-issued picture ID with them to cast a ballot.
For information, call the Board of Elections office at (706) 868-3355.