Voters waited in line at Baker Woods Baptist Church to cast ballots on Election Day. A record number of Columbia County voters - 82 percent - cast their ballots this year.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
A record number of Columbia County voters went to the polls Tuesday in support of Republican candidates and voted by a wide margin to keep marriage a union between a man and woman.
Debbie Marshall, the executive director for the county's Board of Elections office, said the county broke a record with an 82 percent voter turnout - 18 percentage points higher than the record set in the 2000 general election.
"I am just so proud of Columbia County voters," Marshall said the day after the election.
Ava Turner, a spokeswoman for Georgia's Secretary of State office, said the county's turnout was 10 percentage points higher than the state average and was among the highest in the state. She said Wednesday it would take the state about a week to determine which county actually had the highest turnout.
In Tuesday's election, Columbia County voters supported all Republican candidates, with President Bush easily winning with 35,546 votes, or 75.31 percent. The Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry, received 11,441 votes in Columbia County, or 24.24 percent. Michael Badnarik, the Libertarian candidate, garnered 153 votes, and there were 54 write-ins.
All other Republican contenders facing Democrat opposition easily won in the county by gaining an average 76.51 percent of votes.
Johnny Isakson won a U.S. Senate seat, Charlie Norwood kept his U.S. House seat, Jim Whitehead won a state Senate seat and Robert Baker Jr. kept his role on the Public Service Commission.
Voters also turned out in droves to support a state Constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union only between a man and woman. On that issue, 38,221, or 82.3 percent, of Columbia County residents voted in favor of the amendment. A total of 8,218, or 17.7 percent, voted no on the amendment.
On the ballot, there also were several unopposed positions - including three county commissioners, Tommy Mercer, Diane Ford and Lee Anderson. Mercer received 8,751 votes, Ford 11,952 and Anderson 7,458. The most write-in votes concerning county commissioners came against Ford with 60. There were 38 write-in votes against Mercer and 26 against Anderson.
Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle also was unopposed in Tuesday's election, receiving 40,887 votes. A total of 252 write-ins were registered against Whittle - 73 of which went for Lewis Blanchard, who challenged him in this year's primary.
In Harlem, city council members Tom Blalock and Robin Root ran unopposed, receiving 614 and 644 votes, respectively. There were 13 write-in votes for those seats.
The county also voted 71 percent to 28.9 percent in favor of a state Constitutional amendment to allow the Supreme Court jurisdiction to answer questions of law from federal courts.
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