With the July 31 primary election now less than a month away, voters can head to the polls as early as Monday for advance voting.
The Columbia County Board of Elections office, at 500 Faircloth Drive, Building E, of the county’s government center, is open for in-person voting from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday-Friday for the next three weeks, said Registration Coordinator Nancy Gay.
Voters will see many familiar names, some new ones and long lists of binding and nonbinding questions on each ballot.
Three nonpartisan candidates, Carolyn Chase, David Dekle and Brian Slowinski, face off in the District 1 school board seat being vacated by Wayne Bridges, while Deborah Fisher and Bobby Ray Strickland are challenging incumbent Roxanne Whitaker for the District 4 school board seat. Those races will appear on both Democrat and Republican ballots.
Also appearing on all ballots will be the non-partisan race between Superior Court Chief Judge Carlisle Overstreet and challenger Willie Saunders. The Augusta Judicial Circuit seat also includes Richmond and Burke counties.
In contested races for Columbia County offices, appearing only on the Republican ballots, incumbent District 3 commissioner Charles Allen faces Republican challenger Butch Holley, while incumbent District 2 commissioner Trey Allen faces Republican challenger Lee Benedict.
Also, Republicans Jason Hasty, Christopher Hudson and Jason Troiano are running for chief magistrate judge to succeed Bobby Christine, who was deployed to active duty with the Army National Guard and isn’t running for re-election.
On the Republican primary ballots for voters primarily in the northwestern portion of the county, incumbent 10th District U.S. Rep. Paul Broun is being challenged by Stephen Simpson, while voters in much of the Evans, Martinez, Grovetown and Harlem areas will decide whether Rick Allen, Lee Anderson, Wright McLeod or Maria Sheffield will go on to face incumbent Democrat John Barrow in the 12th District race in the November general election.
If none of the four win the primary outright, a runoff will be held Aug. 21.
Republican voters in the newly-drawn state House District 121 race will decide between Barry Fleming and Mike Popplewell. No other legislative races have primary challengers.
On all county ballots, voters will see questions in two binding referendums: One asks voters across the state to implement an additional 1 percent sales tax for transportation projects, while the other asks Columbia County voters whether to allow Sunday package sales of alcohol.
Voters in Harlem will hold a separate referendum on Sunday sales but also can vote in the countywide ballot, as can Grovetown voters, who approved their own referendum in November. Sunday package sales in that city have been allowed since December.
In addition, Republican ballots statewide include five nonbinding questions for voters, while Democratic ballots include four straw-poll questions.
Voters must select either a Republican or Democratic ballot when voting or may choose a non-partisan ballot that includes only the school board race for their district, the judicial election, and the binding poll questions.
For any questions on voting, call the Columbia County Board of Elections office at (706) 868-3355.