Of the 18,091 Columbia County residents who took the trouble to perform their civic duty by going to the polls on Super Tuesday, 79 of them cast their valuable vote for a candidate who had quit the presidential race.
While I suppose those 79 votes could be an endorsement of “none of the above,” or an endorsement of a candidate the voters wished had stayed in the race, each vote was still wasted.
It’s interesting to note that of those votes, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann tied with 30 each. Jon Huntsman received 19 votes.
And even though all three withdrew from the race, they still outpolled Buddy Roemer (13 votes) and Gary Johnson (five votes), both of whom are actual, qualified candidates.
In fact, those two got even fewer votes than the 19 people who, for whatever reason, cast a blank ballot. That must sting.
Georgia voters overall did the same thing. Bachmann, Perry and Huntsman each pulled 0.2 percent of the vote; Johnson and Roemer each got 0.1 percent.
I don’t think they’re gonna make it.
As for the 17,178 Columbia County voters whose votes actually counted (not including the 834 symbolic votes for Barack Obama, whom we could safely assume would win the unopposed re-nomination), 7,065 preferred Newt Gingrich; 4,727 voted for Mitt Romney; 4,285 voted for Rick Santorum; and 1,020 like Ron Paul.
Another way of looking at it is that Romney got 27 percent, while more-conservative voters split between Santorum and native son Gingrich with a total of 67 percent. Columbia County has never been very friendly to moderates.
In case you didn’t notice, despite the fact that the Republican presidential primary was the only contested item on Columbia County’s ballot, the 24.31 percent turnout not only exceeded the 15 percent that Elections Director Deborah Marshall had predicted, but it beat the just more than 21 percent turnout in Richmond County.
When you consider Augusta’s ballot also included binding referendums on the school sales tax and Sunday package alcohol sales, that’s even more remarkable. Of course, the fact that 56,314 registered Columbia County voters blew off the chance to vote is pretty sad.
Redemption should come on July 31 for the General Primary. Not only will there be multiple contested races on the ballot, but Columbia County will have three binding questions:
• The Sunday package alcohol sales referendum;
• the statewide, regional transportation sales tax; and,
• the referendum on term limits for county commissioners.
I’m predicting pass, fail, pass for those three.
Incidentally, state Rep. Ben Harbin says Gov. Nathan Deal last week signed into law the new county commission and school board districts for Columbia County.
There’s no telling how long we’ll have to wait for our federal overlords in the U.S. Justice Department to give their imperious approval, but it should be in plenty of time for the July vote.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/