As Georgians flood to early voting polls to cast their ballots before Nov. 8, Alabamians face a looming deadline to register.
“I think it’s busy everywhere in Georgia,” said Sherrail Jarret, the elections supervisor in Harris County, where 1,173 residents had voted as of 3 p.m. Wednesday. Of that total, 426 voted Monday and 393 on Tuesday, she said.
For Harris County, that’s “a very big number,” she said.
In Columbus, early voters have been casting an average of around 140 ballots per hour this week, with 1,748 voting Monday, 1,520 on Tuesday and 1,591 on Wednesday, said Nancy Boren, executive director of the Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registrations.
Georgia’s deadline to register to vote was Oct. 11, and some residents rushed to make it on time. Muscogee County on Oct. 1 had 96,045 registered and “active” voters, meaning they voted this year, changed their registration or had some other contact with the election process. That was an increase from 85,717 during the March 1 presidential primary and 89,952 during the May 24 state party primaries and local elections.
From Oct. 1 through the Oct. 11 deadline, 4,301 more Columbus residents registered, bringing the total eligible for this election up to 100,346, closer to the total in 2008, when the city had 103,697. It had 105,326 active voters in 2012.
For the 2004 presidential election, Columbus had 88,223 active voters. In 2000, the number was 80,799.
Alabama deadline looms
Now Alabamians face a voter registration deadline, as Monday will be the last day.
Russell County Probate Judge Alford Harden said residents can register in his office or the second-floor registrar’s office at the county courthouse, formerly the riverfront Mead headquarters, at 1000 Broad Street in Phenix City. The office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT.
Those registering do not have to bring any documentation with them, he said. They put a driver’s license or Social Security number on the form, and the office staff confirms that before sending a voter registration card.
Those with online access needn’t even leave home. Like Georgia, Alabama now offers online voter registration at www.alabamavotes.gov, where residents also can change their address of record, view ballot measures and get other voter information.
Sample ballots also are available at the probate judge’s office. Besides the presidential race and 14 state constitutional amendments, Russell County ballots have these contested races:
Incumbent Republican Mike Rogers faces a challenge from Democrat Jesse Smith in the 3rd Congressional District.
Democrat LaToya Payne and Republican Gentry Lee compete for Russell County Commission District 1.
Democrat Tillman Pugh and Republican Carl Currington face off for commission District 2.
Democrat Bernard McKissic, Republican Chance Corbett and independent Charles Lamar Sizemore compete for commission District 6.
Democrat Larry Screws and Republican Wanda King Lamb face off in commission District 7.
Early voting continues
Back across the Chattahoochee River in Georgia, residents needn’t rush to the early voting poll this week, as they can vote any day through Nov. 4, including Saturdays and Sundays.
This week, some waited up to 45 minutes to cast ballots, having arrived at some of the busier periods of the day, such as mornings and midday.
The early voting poll used to have a rush-hour crush of residents coming in as soon as they got off work, but that hasn’t been the case this time around, Boren said, so that’s now a slack time. “The key time to come is 5 to 7 p.m.,” she said. “Weekends are typically slack also.”
When Columbus offered two Sundays of early voting for the May 24 state party primaries and local nonpartisan elections, only 12 people showed up on one day and only 15 on the other one.
Voters with disabilities should remember Access2independence is offering them a free ride to the city’s early voting poll from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, if they reserve a spot by Tuesday. Those who want to sign up may call 706-405-2393 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, said Access2independence Executive Director Nichole Davis.
In Columbus, all advance, in-person voting continues every day 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, the hours for early voting at the 104 N. College St. Courthouse Annex in Hamilton are 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.
Voters should bring a government-issued photo ID.
Those 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. 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’ “tax freeze” on owner-occupied homes.