With four polls opening today in Columbus, finding a place to vote early for the Nov. 6 general election should be easy.
Finding the time might be more difficult.
Beyond the candidates on the Muscogee ballot are two state constitutional amendments, six proposed Columbus city charter changes, and a local referendum on selling Sunday booze.
People who wait until they get to the polls to read all that legal language are going to be there awhile.
So voters can save themselves some time by studying up in advance, said Nancy Boren, director of the Muscogee Board of Elections and Registration.
The early voting sites and schedules are:
The Muscogee Office of Elections and Registrations, ground floor, west wing, Columbus Government Center, 100 10th St., 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. MondayFriday.
The Columbus Baptist Association, 3679 Steam Mill Road, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. MondayFriday; not open on Thursday, Oct. 18.
The North Highland Assembly of God, 7300 Livingston Drive, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday.
The Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Road, 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. MondayThursday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and on two Saturdays, Oct. 20 and Oct. 27.
Boren recommends residents try to find the time to vote early, once they review sample ballots and make up their minds.
With a tight presidential race leading the ballot over prominent local posts such as congressman, sheriff, district attorney and legislative delegates, Election Day 2012 could be busy.
It's going to go a whole lot slower if people unprepared for the big civics test at the ballot's end get to their touch-screen voting machines and start reading it fresh.
Some also might need extra time to write in a candidate -- or three, possibly, here in Muscogee County.
If they're not satisfied with their Georgia ballot choice of President Barack Obama, Gov. Mitt Romney or Libertarian Gary Johnson, they may call forth the keypad on their touch-screen machine and type in Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson, David L. Byrne, Virgil Goode, Darrell Hykes, James Harris, Erin Kent Magee, Jill Reid or Jill Stein.
If they don't care for Vice-President Joe Biden, Congressman Paul Ryan or Libertarian James P. Gray, they may consider official vice-presidential write-in candidates Tom Cary, Cheri Honkala or Alyson Kennedy.
Some Columbus voters also have the option of writing in David Ferguson for Georgia's 3rd Congressional District.
Georgia has 19 qualified write-in candidates. Some outside Columbus might sound familiar to folks here, such as former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, a write-in for Georgia's 4th Congressional District. Others might not ring a bell, such as Kwabena "Cubby" Nkromo, a write-in for Georgia House District 57.
Beat the rush
Folks who take Boren's advice and cast their ballots early dodge the risk of hitting polls jammed Nov. 4 by pop-quizzed charter readers and spelling-tested write-in voters.
Any registered Georgia voter can see a sample ballot online at mvp.sos.state.ga.us. The ballot can be downloaded in PDF format.
Voters should remember to have government-issued photo IDs to show at the polls. Also they should keep in mind that if they suspect something's wrong with their ballot, they must alert a poll worker before they tap "cast."
No ballot cast can be recalled for inspection.