More than 9,000 vote early in today's local, state races

Voters today must pick party or nonpartisan ballot, show photo ID

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comMay 19, 2014 

By the time the voting polls in Columbus open this morning at 7, about 9,100 ballots already will have been cast.

That's an estimate of what the early vote's likely to be. The final count of the ballots cast after early, in-person voting ended here Friday was 9,066, but 148 more mail-in absentee ballots had been sent out, and some still were arriving Monday in the mail, said elections director Nancy Boren.

Any absentee ballots that come in before the polls close at 7 p.m. today will be counted, she said.

Boren has predicted a 25 percent turnout of Columbus' approximately 100,000 voters, or around 25,000. If that holds true, then with early voting 36 percent of the ballots already are in.

Statewide, about 239,300 people have voted early, an increase over about 212,500 who cast ballots ahead of the party primaries held in 2010.

In the Columbus mayor's race, this year's numbers likely won't look good compared to 2010, partly because the mayor's election back then coincided with the November general election, not with the earlier primaries. November general elections typically draw more voter interest.

In the November 2010 mayoral election, a total of 46,602 residents voted, a turnout of 48 percent. The Georgia General Assembly later changed state law to shift local elections to coincide with party primaries.

Because some party primaries this year have seven to nine candidates, a runoff is likely. It would be July 22.

Those voting today should remember to bring a government-issued photo ID and know in advance which ballot they want. Because local nonpartisan elections for mayor, council and school board today coincide with state party primaries, voters may choose a Democratic, Republican or nonpartisan ballot.

If they choose a nonpartisan ballot, they decline to vote in partisan state races for governor, U.S. Senator and Georgia school superintendent.

Residents with online access can check their polling site and see sample ballots at the Georgia Secretary of State's "My Voter" web page, mvp.sos.state.ga.us.

Boren said election day voting polls typically are busy from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and around lunchtime. A third rush used to come from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., but in more recent elections, that late evening crunch has eased, with more voters casting ballots early in the day, not late, she said.

Polls usually are less congested from around 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and in the afternoon after lunch, Boren said.

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