This is the last Sunday in November, a pretty good time to give the final, wrap-up, Monday morning quarterback look at the elections in Columbia County.
The agony was somewhat prolonged, of course, thanks to those happy folks in Laurens County. Remember, they misprinted Howard Mead's name on a handful of ballots in the less-than-obscure race for Georgia Court of Appeals judge. The former counsel to Gov. "King Roy" Barnes finished third in the state and sued and made the state do the election over.
Mead came in second Nov. 2, and the state had to pay about $1 million to hold a runoff election when Debra Bernes fell short of the 45 percent required to win outright.
On Tuesday, Mead lost when, for the third time, the far-more-qualified Bernes got the most votes. Now maybe Mead can get a job and earn some actual experience instead of the mostly fantasized stuff his expensive, self-financed TV ads portrayed. We hear they're hiring ballot proof-readers in Laurens County.
This past week's election cost Columbia County about $14,000, by the way. The County Commission had to amend the budget to pay for it, and add $38,000 for a school board sales-tax referendum to be held March 15. Because the school system is calling for the election and has the only item on the ballot, commissioners are trying to find out if they can have the school board pay for it.
That much money is about what it costs to hire two teachers' aides for a year -- which means elections are expensive, and paraprofessionals are grossly underpaid.
Numbers still crunchy
As for the election Nov. 2, Heather Muns, the daughter of Columbia County Republican Party Chairman Lee Muns, has again crunched the numbers to give them some context:
Other than absentees, which are counted from all precincts, the most ballots (1,498) were cast in the Baker Woods Baptist Church precinct on Furys Ferry Road. The highest percentage turnout was at Greater Augusta Apostolic Church near Grovetown, with 72.3 percent.
Those Baker Woods voters preferred Bush with 79 percent of the vote, ranking 13th; the highest percentage of a precinct's voters favoring Bush was at Kiokee Baptist in Appling, with 87 percent.
The fewest voters were at the Grovetown Middle School precinct (402). The lowest percentage was Belair Elementary's 54 percent.
Grovetown Middle's 74 percent vote for Bush ranked the precinct 15th from the bottom. Bush's worst numbers were at Burks Mountain near Pollard's Corner, the only precinct Bush lost, with just 33 percent of the vote there.
Oddly enough, that heavily Democrat precinct was the only one won by School Board candidate LouAnn Grove, who had endorsements from Muns and many of the county's Republican Party officials.
How did the county's vote for the president compare to his first election? Bush received 75.3 percent of the vote, slightly better than his 74.29 percent in 2000.
Four years ago, 26,658 Columbia County voters poked a chad on the old punch-card ballots for Bush in 2000, while 35,546 voters poked the new touch-screen for his re-election this year.
Incidentally, here's one number that Heather Muns didn't crunch: the precinct with the highest percentage of those voting for someone other than the three presidential candidates on Georgia's ballot. Just .13 percent of voters in the county chose to write in a candidate for president, listing everything from serious choices such as Constitution Party candidate Mike Peroutka and Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, to goofy choices such as Larry Flynt or Minnie Mouse.
The highest percentage those choosing none of the above goes to voters at Lewis Memorial United Methodist Church, where .45 percent chose a write-in vote. The opposite is the 16 precincts in which no voters wrote in a vote for president.
Incidentally, that .45 percent at Lewis Memorial represents just four votes: Two for Nader, one for Colin Powell -- and one for "Bush."
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.