Advance voting starts Monday

Advance voting for the Feb. 5 Georgia presidential preference primary kicks off Monday.

Volunteers spent Wednesday checking the machines that will be used next week and on election day in a poll that will divvy delegates up between Democratic and Republican candidates.

Voters get their first chance to cast a ballot in person Monday at either the Columbus Public Library or the west wing of the Columbus Government Center. Residents don't need a reason to vote advance, though they must show valid photo identification when casting a ballot, said Nancy Boren, executive director of the Muscogee County Office of Elections and Registrations.

"They'll have the opportunity to pick either a Republican or Democratic ballot," Boren said during a break from checking the voting machines. "Voters will be required to choose."

Voting at the library will be open from 9:30-4:30 p.m. Monday through Feb. 1. Polls will be open at Boren's office from 8:30-4:30 p.m. on the same days.

Voters may continue to request absentee ballots through Feb. 1, though a valid reason is needed to cast such as ballot. Reasons include having a religious holiday, being disabled or being a member of a public safety organization.

While a party must be chosen for the presidential primary, voters aren't pigeonholed into that choice come the July primary, Boren said. Someone could vote Republican Feb. 5 and Democratic in July, when voters will choose their parties' candidates for sheriff and the Georgia General Assembly, among others.

The general election is Nov. 4.

More than 20 states are holding primaries and caucuses Feb. 5 in a "Super Tuesday" that will award thousands of delegates to presidential candidates. Those delegates will vote for their respective candidates at the parties' national conventions.