Tim Chitwood

Think this Halloween is scary? Just wait until it’s an election year

Columbus residents wait in line to vote early in the 2016 presidential election.
Columbus residents wait in line to vote early in the 2016 presidential election. tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.com

What’s truly scary is to think what next year’s Halloween will be like.

Less humid, hopefully, as the forecast Thursday so far has scattered showers, a high in the low 80s and an overnight low in the low 60s, with 85 percent humidity.

It also has “strong, gusty winds,” so celebrants may have to forego costumes with a lot of wind resistance. It’s fun dressing like a witch in the tall pointy hat and baggy black robe until you actually start flying through the air like storm debris.

Speaking of strong, gusty winds, we will have leaned into quite a few, by this time next year, when we will be anticipating not only the hour-earlier darkness at the end of Daylight Saving Time – which this year will be Nov. 3 – but also the general election, which next year will be Nov. 3.

By Halloween 2020, the voting public will have been buffeted not only by the 2020 presidential election, bound to be even wilder and crazier than the last, but also all the state and local races, and two proposed local sales taxes that if both approved at least temporarily would raise the tax rate to nine cents on each dollar spent.

Columbus will have to decide what to do about the Government Center – whether to tear it down or fix it up or move it somewhere else – and of course that will be a sales tax project, too. And whether the county seat is to stay on the same site could determine how residents vote on the tax.

The city’s already hosting public meetings on its sales tax, to ask what voters want. That tax is on the ballot for Nov. 3, 2020, months after the Muscogee school board has its sales tax referendum up for a vote, most likely with the March 24 party primaries for president.

What’s next?

With so much looming like a storm front on the horizon, you may wonder what the full schedule looks like.

If so, then that’s a shame, because I don’t have the full schedule. But I did get the list of public meetings and combine it with the election dates, that looks like this – starting with the city sales tax project meetings from Monday through Nov. 21, after which we get a holiday break before the first voter registration deadline in February.

On a side note, the Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registrations has a public meeting 5:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, in the Community Room of the City Services Center at 3111 Citizens Way, to demonstrate how the new Georgia “ballot printer” voting machines work. So that’s going to coincide with Tuesday’s sales tax meeting:

Monday: 6 p.m.–7:30 p.m., South Columbus United Methodist Church, 1213 Benning Drive.

Tuesday: 6 p.m.–7:30 p.m., Comer Gym, 107 41st St.

Nov. 4: 6 p.m.–7:30 p.m., Northside Recreation Center, 2010 American Way.

Nov. 7: 6 p.m.–7:30 p.m., Shirley B. Winston Recreation Center, 5025 Steam Mill Road.

Nov. 18: 6 p.m.–7:30 p.m., Salvation Army Worship Center, 5201 Warm Springs Road.

Nov. 19: 6 p.m.–7:30 p.m., city government annex, 420 10th St.

Nov. 21: 6 p.m.–7:30 p.m., Faith Worship Center, 5303 Miller Road.

Elections schedule

Here’s the 2020 election schedule from the Georgia Secretary of State:

Feb. 24: Deadline to register in the presidential preference primary.

March 2: Early, in-person voting begins for presidential primary.

March 24: Presidential preference primary.

April 20: Deadline to register in the state primaries and local nonpartisan elections.

April 27: Early, in-person voting begins for state primaries and local elections.

May 19: Election day for state primaries and local nonpartisan elections.

July 21: Runoff date for state primary and local nonpartisan elections, if necessary.

Oct. 5: Deadline to register for the general election.

Oct. 12: Early, in-person voting begins for the November general election.

Nov. 3: Election day for the general election.

Dec. 1: Runoff date for the general election, if necessary.

Tim Chitwood is from Seale, Ala., and started as a police beat reporter with the Ledger-Enquirer in 1982. He since has covered Columbus’ serial killings and other homicides, following some from the scene of the crime to trial verdicts and ensuing appeals. He also has been a Ledger-Enquirer humor columnist since 1987. He’s a graduate of Auburn University, and started out working for the weekly Phenix Citizen in Phenix City, Ala.