Advance voting week begins Monday, offering an alternative for residents hoping to beat lines at the polls.
Advance voting polling stations will be staffed at the Columbia County Library, Patriots Park and Savannah Rapids Pavilion from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, Nov. 2, with extended hours Friday, Nov. 3 until 6 p.m. Unlike in-person absentee balloting, advance voting will not be available at the Columbia County Board of Elections office in Evans.
Unlike with in-person absentee voting, residents do not need an excuse to vote during advance voting week. Excuses to vote absentee in-person include: voters must be older than 75, absent from their precinct on the day of the election, have a physical disability, serve as a caretaker for the disabled, serve as an election worker, observe a religious holiday that falls on election day or perform military or public service for the health and welfare of the community.
With less than two weeks before the Nov. 7 general election, and a few days before advance voting begins, county officials say more than 900 absentee ballots have already been cast.
Deborah Marshall, the director of elections for Columbia County, said that as of Friday, 619 voters had cast absentee ballots by mail and 310 voters had voted absentee at the Board of Elections office in Evans. Overall, nearly 2,000 voters have applied to vote absentee.
Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered to the Board of Elections by 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 6 or received at the Evans post office by 5 p.m. on election day to be accepted, according to the county Web site.
During the primary election in July, 1,212 people voted absentee. By comparison, Marshall said 1,094 people voted during advance voting week before the primary, though she said her department estimates about 2,000 voters will choose that option for the general election.
Marshall said she expects overall turnout of the Nov. 7 election to be about 35 percent, which pales in comparison with the 2004 presidential election turnout of 83 percent. That year, more than 10,000 voters cast absentee and advance ballots.
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