Barbara and Sid Putnam (from left) and Walter Falk take advantage of advance voting at the Board of Election office in Evans.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
In the first hour of advance voting week in Columbia County, 75 people packed into the Board of Elections office Monday to take advantage of the opportunity.
Five hours later, about 300 people had voted.
"It's steady,'' said Deborah Marshall, the executive director of the Columbia County Board of Elections office. "It hasn't stopped at all. It's pretty high.''
Advance voting week began Monday and continues in Columbia County through Friday. Unlike voting absentee, voters need no excuse to vote early this week and can do so from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the county's Board of Elections office at the Evans Government Complex on Ronald Reagan Drive.
The advance voting week has been held in the county four previous times, increasing in popularity with each election, officials say. During the primary earlier this year, 895 people turned out for the chance to cast a ballot a week before the actual voting date. Marshall said a week ago that she expected at least 1,000 people to take advantage of the opportunity this year in advance of the Nov. 2 general election. After Monday's high turnout, she adjusted that prediction to about 1,500.
On Monday morning, Marshall said her office's voter registration system became inoperable, as was the case throughout the entire state of Georgia. However, she said her office had a master list backup, so the system's down time caused no problems.
Chuck Pardue campaigns on the corner of Washington Road and Ronald Reagan Drive in Evans. Pardue is running against Jim Whitehead for the 24th District state Senate seat.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Other than that, there were no complications. Marshall says she expects overall voter turnout for the county to be at about 70 percent of registered voters. Sixty-four percent of registered voters turned out for the 2000 general election.
Marshall said this year's ballot is smaller than in the past and should make things quicker. There are two state amendment questions on the ballot, including one asking whether there should be an amendment to the state constitution to recognize marriage only as a union of a man and woman. A nonbinding question also will ask voters if they favor an elected chairperson of the Columbia County Board of Education.
Voters in District 5 and 2 will vote on a new school board member, with LouAnne Grove and Mike Sleeper seeking the seat currently held by Lee Muns in District 5, and incumbent Wayne Bridges facing a challenge from Donnie Porter in District 2. Republican Jim Whitehead will face Democrat Chuck Pardue for the 24th District state Senate race.
Those wishing to vote absentee before the election will have until Friday to request a ballot to be mailed from Marshall's office. Marshall said absentee voters can vote in her office until Monday, adding that absentee ballots must be mailed in to her office by Tuesday.
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