Qualifying for the Columbia County’s May general primary election begins next month, but so far few candidates appear to be lined up for the contest.
The May 20 election will include races for state Senate Districts, 23 and 24 and House of Representatives Districts, 33, 121, 122 and 123.
In county races, the ballot will include Board of Education Districts 2 and 3 and county Commission Districts 1 and 4, and county Commission
Thus far, the Chairman’s race appears to be the only one contested. Chairman Ron Cross has said he will seek a fourth term of office and local builder and political activist Jim Bartley has declared to oppose him for the seat.
Doug Duncan, a vice president with Augusta staffing firm MAU Inc., has announced his intentions to seek the District 1 seat being vacated by Commissioner Ron Thigpen.
No one yet has declared to run against incumbents in the other county offices, said Columbia County Elections Director Nancy Gay.
Gay said she has taken a few phone calls from interested parties, but none have filed any paperwork declaring their intent to run.
Those who do intend to seek office will have to qualify starting March 3 at 9 a.m.
Qualifying ends at noon March 7.
Only the nonpartisan school board candidates are required to qualify at the Board of Elections office, Gay said. In all the other partisan races, candidates will have to qualify with party representatives, she said.
Gay said she expects to make the election office available to the parties if they request space during the qualifying period.
As for voters, April 21 is the last day residents may register to vote in the May 20 election, Gay said.
Absentee by voting by mail will start April 5. Voters must submit a written request to receive an absentee ballot by mail. Early voting will start April 28, at the Columbia County Board of Elections Office. Gay said those who are already registered to vote should verify their information, prior to coming to the polls.
“In 2013, the State of Georgia implemented a new statewide voter registration system,” she said. “As with any transition, there are always kinks to work out and this is why we strongly suggest each voter confirm their registration.”
Gay said she doesn’t anticipate any problems, but it is in each voter’s interest to check their information. Doing so should ensure a smooth voting experience.
“That is my biggest concern, not that we have had any issues,” she said. “But you can never be too careful.”
Voters can go online to www.columbiacountyga.gov to confirm their registration, or they can call the office at (70) 868-3355 or stop by the Board of Elections office in person.