Update (6:41 a.m. Tuesday): Advance voting that was scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. at the City Service Center has been delayed until 8 a.m.
Original story: But for one man who thought the mayor’s race between party regulars Teresa Tomlinson and Colin Martin could not possibly be nonpartisan, Columbus voters Monday showed little confusion as they cast ballots on Georgia’s first day of in-person early voting.
After all three voting polls closed, 569 had cast ballots in advance of the May 20 election.
Because Columbus’ local nonpartisan elections coincide with party primaries, voters must choose a Democratic, Republican or nonpartisan ballot. In past election years, at least a few people on early voting’s first day needed a poll worker to explain why they had to choose a Republican or Democratic ballot to vote in a party primary, or why no primary showed up on the nonpartisan ballots they chose because they claimed no party.
Except for the fellow caught off guard by learning the mayor’s race is nonpartisan, voters knew exactly which ballots they wanted, poll managers said.
“We haven’t had to change ballots for anybody,” said Tiffany Rodgers, poll manager at the Columbus City Services Center at 311 Citizens Way, beside the main library.
When the poll closed Monday, 281 people had voted at the service center, where voting in the community room on the building’s northeast corner opened at 7 a.m.
Not everyone knew precisely where to find the community room. It’s all the way down a hall off the center’s lobby. Over the entrance to the hallway is a sign that says “311 Citizen Services Center” and “Parks And Recreation.”
Though many voters parked at the library and used the service center’s east entrance, they today might prefer the parking garage on the west side, as the weather forecast calls for thunderstorms and heavy rain.
One advantage to the new polling site is that it has plenty of room to accommodate an influx of voters. The old site, the main library, got so jammed lines of people waiting to vote clogged a side entrance, sometimes stretching out the door. It got more congested as the library hosted other events during early voting.
Another new site this year is the old Piccadilly Restaurant at Peachtree Mall, 3131 Manchester Expressway. It's right by the mall’s rear covered entrance west of Dillard’s. That poll opened at 11 a.m. By the time it closed at 8 p.m., 169 people had voted there.
The third early voting site is the Columbus Baptist Association at 3679 Steam Mill Road. It opened at 9:30 a.m. and had 30 people cast ballots in the first hour. When it closed at 5:30 p.m., 119 voters had cast ballots there.
On two Saturdays, May 3 and May 10, the Macon Road service center will be open for voting 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Early voting ends Friday, May 16, when election workers start gearing up for Election Day, May 20, when all Columbus voting precincts open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sample ballots are available at the early voting polls. Also voters can download their own copies at the Georgia Secretary of State’s “MyVolter” page, mvp.sos.state.ga.us.