Elections officials expect some confusion from voters as they learn how changes from last year’s county and statewide reapportionment affect them.
Advance voting begins Monday at the Board of Elections office in Evans. All voters in the county should have received new voter information cards, listing their voting precinct and all of their districts for representation.
One strip of voters in the Columbia Road area received incorrect information on their cards, said Registration Coordinator Nancy Gay. But all of those voters since should have received corrected cards and a letter explaining the error, she said.
Perhaps the largest change for voters is the new congressional districts that split Columbia County. The entire county was previously part of the 10th Congressional District. Starting this year, however, only the northwestern part of the county remains in the 10th, while the eastern portion of the county falls into the redrawn 12th Congressional District.
Harlem, Grovetown and most of the unincorporated areas of Martinez and Evans fall into the 12th District. The 10th holds onto the Riverwood Plantation area, wraps around the central part of the county through Leah, Winfield and Appling, and follows the county line along McDuffie County to the southern tip of the county just outside Harlem.
In the 10th District race, incumbent U.S. Rep. Paul Broun faces Republican challenger Stephen K. Simpson, of Milledgeville, in the July 31 primary. The seat has no Democratic opposition.
In the 12th District, incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. John Barrow will wait until November to find out which of four Republicans he’ll face in the general election: Rick Allen, Lee Anderson, Wright McLeod or Maria Sheffield.
Some voters also will see other names for the first time when they head to the polls, with state legislative districts from outside the county now including portions of Columbia County.
Republican District 23 state Sen. Jesse Stone’s district now includes a portion of the county along the eastern edge. He’s unopposed in the primary, and faces Democrat Robert Ingham in November. Likewise, Republican District 33 state Rep. Tom McCall’s district now includes the Leah portion of the county, and he faces Democrat David Vogel in the general election.
In the District 121 state House race, former State Rep. Barry Fleming faces former state Senate candidate Mike Popplewell in the Republican Primary. The seat, currently held by Lee Anderson, includes much of the Harlem and Grovetown area and most of McDuffie County.
The district lines for State Sen. Bill Jackson and state Reps. Ben Harbin and Barbara Sims also changed in reapportionment, but none of them face opposition.
Because of the growth in population, the county also split voters from the Lewis Memorial United Methodist Church precinct and from the Woodlawn Baptist Church precinct to vote in a new precinct at Patriots Park.
Voter information cards should include all that information, but voters with questions can call the Board of Elections office at (706) 868-3355.