Being on the border with South Carolina has its benefits, including the availability of fireworks and cheaper gas.
It also puts us in the coverage zone as television stations bombard us with ads for and against contenders in Saturday’s upcoming Republican presidential primary. In some respects, it’s similar to the bleedover from ads we get for chain restaurants without a location here: Yeah, Dave and Buster’s sounds like fun, but we don’t have one.
But here’s the good news: If all the talk about the Republican presidential contest has given you a hankerin’ for a heapin’ helpin’ of voting, your opportunity is coming sooner than you think.
That’s because, even though Georgia’s Presidential Preference Primary won’t be held until March 6, you can actually request an absentee ballot for voting by mail as early as Monday – just two days after South Carolina’s first-in-the-South voting.
I wouldn’t suggest being in any hurry, however. It’s entirely likely many of the candidates currently listed on that ballot won’t be around by the time March 6 rolls around.
Not just likely, in fact; it’s a certainty. South Carolina’s largest newspaper endorsed Jon Huntsman this weekend, and just a few hours later he withdrew from the race. Oops.
Huntsman still will appear on those already-printed ballots this Saturday in South Carolina, however, and he’ll also be on Georgia’s March 6 ballot along with Michelle Bachmann, who likewise has quit.
According to the official list from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, other candidates on Georgia’s primary ballot are Newt Gingrich, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Buddy Roemer, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. I’m sure a few of them also will have called it quits by the time March 6, “Super Tuesday,” rolls around.
In addition to absentee ballots available Monday, actual voting (at the county’s board of elections office in Evans, for Columbia County voters) starts Feb. 13. The deadline to register to vote is Feb. 6, so if you know someone who recently has turned 18, make sure they sign up.
Meanwhile, if you’re also envious of South Carolina holding its primary on a Saturday, starting this year you’re in luck. In addition to shortening the early and advance voting period by one week, Georgia’s new election laws approved last year also require the addition of one Saturday of voting.
The elections office, then, will be open Feb. 25 to accommodate those who’d like to vote for the first time on a Saturday.
By the way: There also is a Democratic presidential preference primary. Just one name is on the ballot, so it’s pretty safe to assume Barrack Obama will win Georgia’s nomination. With the outcome already assured, Democrats with a taste for mischief might very well pick a Republican ballot and have a little fun.
I’m thinking Dave and Buster’s, myself.
Regular readers of this page might recognize the name of Floyd Brown.
For years he had been an occasional contributor, writing sometimes to lament the urban sprawl that overran his neighborhoods, and at others worrying about the changes that threatened to overwhelm his country.
I was sad to see this past weekend that Mr. Brown had died at age 75.
Mr. Brown was an Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam and later in civilian intelligence. I spoke to him a few times through the years, and he also was a delightful, thoughtful man.
Blessings to his family.
While I was only on the periphery, having ended school the same year Conrad Fink started teaching at the University of Georgia, I proudly consider myself a “Finkster.”
Teaching a variety of courses in the The Henry W. Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Dr. Fink was an astonishingly strong influence on his students who probably worked harder to excel in his classes because they genuinely wanted his approval. His red pen was legendary, and getting a few words of encouragement from him was like winning an award.
Dr. Fink passed away last week, having lost a battle to cancer that he’d previously thought beaten. My Aunt Bobbie Gable did that: She was pronounced cured of breast cancer after the magical five years, and then it came back with a vengeance. It’s hard.
The J-School, it’s safe to say, will never be the same without Dr. Fink. May he rest in peace.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)