Think of it as the final stretch of an exhausting marathon in which runners hit the last turn at 7 a.m. today.
That’s when early, in-person voting starts here in Muscogee County and continues every day until Friday, Nov. 4.
All advance, in-person voting will be in the community room on the ground floor of the City Services Center, 3111 Citizens Way, off Macon Road by the Columbus Public Library. The hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. All Georgia voting precincts will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 8.
In Harris County, early voting at the 104 N. College St. Courthouse Annex in Hamilton will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday the weeks of Oct. 17-21 and Oct. 24-28; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. the week of Oct. 31-Nov. 4; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29.
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A composite ballot accompanies this story, but not every ballot will have all the races listed, as not every voter lives in Georgia House District 29, and Columbus is split between the 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts.
Voters who want to see individual sample ballots may visit the Georgia Secretary of State’s “My Voter Page” at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov, where ballots are posted in PDF format. Friends and relatives may want to print samples for voters who have no online access.
Election supervisors are urging voters to read ballots ahead of time if they plan to vote on four state constitutional amendments and a special referendum on Columbus’ so-called “tax freeze” on owner-occupied homes.
Some find the referendum language confusing, so remember that voting “yes” means ending the freeze for those who buy homes after Jan. 1. Voting “no” is to favor maintaining the freeze for all homeowners, old and new.
Columbus also has two qualified local write-in candidates in races adjacent to each other on the ballot:
For Superior Court clerk, Ann L. Hardman, who on May 24 defeated incumbent Linda Pierce to win the Democratic nomination, faces attorney Mike Garner, a write-in.
For sheriff, former sheriff’s Lt. Pam Brown is running as a write-in against incumbent John T. Darr, an independent, Democrat Donna Tompkins and Republican Mark LaJoye.
To write in a candidate, voters tap the space for “Write-in” on the touch-screen voting machine, and a keyboard pops up. The voter then types in the name and taps the box beside it.
Voters who believe they have been given the wrong ballot or notice any apparent error are asked to notify a poll worker immediately. In the past, some have waited until they tapped “CAST BALLOT” to complain. That is too late, as no ballot can be retrieved once it’s cast.
Those voting early also should remember that advance voting polls typically have busy periods and slack spells — busy in the morning, at midday and around 5 p.m. when people get off work; slack in mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
Though it may not presage a crush of early voters, Columbus had a last-minute rush of residents registering to vote. Nancy Boren, executive director of the Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registrations, said she had to divide workers into two shifts to process the wave of late registrations.
Those who are so into politics they want yard signs, bumper stickers and T-shirts may visit the two major parties’ headquarters in Columbus:
The Democrats are at 3740 Macon Road, open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and opening at noon on Sunday. The telephone number is 706-563-6364. Email inquiries may go to Patricia Lassiter, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Republicans are at 1132 13th St., open noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Local party Chairman Rick Allen is at 706-593-5845. Emails may go to email@example.com.
SAMPLE BALLOT FOR MUSCOGEE COUNTY
NOTE: This composite ballot does not include uncontested races. Because voters live in different congressional and state house districts, the races listed won’t be on all ballots.
For President of the United States
DONALD J. TRUMP – President
MICHAEL R. PENCE – Vice President
HILLARY CLINTON –President
TIM KAINE – Vice President
GARY JOHNSON – President
BILL WELD – Vice President
CLAIRE ELISABETH ELLIOTT
DAVID C. BYRNE
MICHAEL L. SMITH
STEPHEN L ALLEN
For United States Senate
For Public Service Commissioner
(To Succeed Tim Echols)
For U.S. Representative In 115th Congress From the 2nd Congressional District of Georgia
For U.S. Representative In 115th Congress From the 3rd Congressional District of Georgia
For State Senator From 29th District
For Clerk of Superior Court
ANN L. HARDMAN
JOHN T. DARR
PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
Provides greater flexibility and state accountability to fix failing schools through increasing community involvement.
Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?
( ) Yes
( ) No
Authorizes penalties for sexual exploitation and assessments on adult entertainment to fund child victims' services.
Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow additional penalties for criminal cases in which a person is adjudged guilty of keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, pandering, pandering by compulsion, solicitation of sodomy, masturbation for hire, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, or sexual exploitation of children and to allow assessments on adult entertainment establishments to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund to pay for care and rehabilitative and social services for individuals in this state who have been or may be sexually exploited?
( ) Yes
( ) No
Reforms and re-establishes the Judicial Qualifications Commission and provides for its composition, governance, and powers.
Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to abolish the existing Judicial Qualifications Commission; require the General Assembly to create and provide by general law for the composition, manner of appointment, and governance of a new Judicial Qualifications Commission, with such commission having the power to discipline, remove, and cause involuntary retirement of judges; require the Judicial Qualifications Commission to have procedures that provide for due process of law and review by the Supreme Court of its advisory opinions; and allow the Judicial Qualifications Commission to be open to the public in some manner?
( ) YES
( ) NO
Dedicates revenue from existing taxes on fireworks to trauma care, fire services, and public safety.
Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that the proceeds of excise taxes on the sale of fireworks or consumer fireworks be dedicated to the funding of trauma care, firefighter equipping and training, and local public safety purposes?
( ) YES
( ) NO
Shall the Act be approved which eliminates the current base year assessed value homestead exemption for purposes of Muscogee County school and consolidated city-county government ad valorem taxes for homestead property acquired after January 1, 2017?
( ) YES
( ) NO