Elections

Here’s what you need to know to vote Tuesday in Muscogee or Russell county

Columbus residents wait in line to vote about 4 p.m. Friday.
Columbus residents wait in line to vote about 4 p.m. Friday. Tim Chitwood/tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.com

No matter who wins, one thing’s for certain: This election is going to end.

When, we’re not sure. If the polls are accurate, it could be a long night spent waiting for the dust to settle in the swing states. Anyone who remembers Bush v. Gore in 2000 knows what that’s like.

Here in Columbus, we’ll have write-in votes to count, in two local races, and two panels to review any that require deciding voter intent.

That’s a result of the 2000 election, when determining voter intent decided the presidential election in Florida. Columbus back then used hardcopy ballots voters marked with a pen by connecting a broken arrow. An optical scanner counted the ballots clearly marked.

Some were more than clearly marked. Some voters not only connected the arrow, but also wrote the same candidate’s name in the blank where the ballot said “write in.”

Those ballots used to be thrown out, because the scanner saw that as an “overvote” for more than one candidate in the same race.

Not anymore. After Florida’s 2000 experience with partially punctured punch-card ballots that left “hanging chads,” Georgia passed laws anticipating that kind of trouble. One established panels to determine voter intent.

The panels include representatives of each political party and election board appointees. If a hardcopy ballot’s “overvoted,” they’ll rule on it. If a write-in candidate’s name doesn’t entirely match, such as it’s partially the candidate’s initials, they’ll rule on that, too.

The tally shall be closely scrutinized, too, with all the claims of vote rigging.

The touch-screen voting machines Georgia uses are on a closed system, so they can’t be hacked. But they can be flawed.

Reports of “vote flipping” have come up, meaning the voter tapped the box by the chosen candidate and the machine showed an X by an opponent’s name.

That can happen on a machine with bad calibration: The screen doesn’t match the ballot. It has to be recalibrated or shut down.

Any voter noticing that needs to tell a poll worker right away, before hitting “cast ballot.” One security measure is that once a ballot’s cast, it can’t be retrieved, else someone trying to rig an election could retrieve and change it.

The early vote

When early in-person voting ended Friday, Columbus had 32,733, more than the 32,012 in 2008, but fewer than 34,123 in 2012.

The early voting poll had a last-minute crush: The line stretched out the Citizens Service Center community room down the hall, through the lobby, out the back door, through the parking garage and over to the aquatic center.

When early voting ended at 7 p.m., the last late sunset of the year, 3,086 had cast ballots that day.

In 2008, the votes totaled 74,428. The early vote was 43 percent. The number of registered voters in Muscogee County was 118,302.

A total 70,962 ballots were cast here in 2012. Registered voters totaled 120,879.

Currently the total number of registered voters in Muscogee County is 131,025.

All Georgia voting precincts will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, when those casting ballots should bring a government-issued photo ID.

Sample ballots are online at the Georgia Secretary of State’s “My Voter Page” at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.

Each Muscogee County ballot has six or seven contested races — depending on the voter’s address — besides four constitutional amendments and a local referendum on lifting the city’s tax assessment freeze on owner-occupied homes.

One race is not obviously contested, as the only challenger is not on the ballot: Attorney Mike Garner is running as a write-in candidate against minister Ann Hardman, who defeated incumbent Superior Court Clerk Linda Pierce to win the Democratic nomination. Only Hardman is on the ballot, above a space where voters can write in Garner’s name.

Also running as a write-in candidate is Pam Brown, disqualified from the Democratic Primary for sheriff for failing to meet a deadline to submit fingerprints for a background check. Incumbent Sheriff John Darr, running as an independent, also faces Republican Mark LaJoye and Democrat Donna Tompkins.

Those are the only contested races exclusive to Muscogee County.

Regionally, south Columbus voters in the 2nd Congressional District must choose between incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop and Republican challenger Greg Duke.

North Columbus voters in the 3rd Congressional District must choose between Republican Drew Ferguson and Democrat Angela Pendley, to replace retiring Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.

In the race for District 29 state senator that includes part of north Columbus, incumbent Republican Josh McKoon faces Democrat Ben Anderson.

In other state races, incumbent Republican Tim Echols faces Libertarian challenger Eric Hoskins for Public Service Commissioner, and incumbent U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson faces Democrat Jim Barksdale and Libertarian Allen Buckley.

Leading every ballot is the hot presidential race between Republican Donald Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Libertarian Gary Johnson. Their names will be on the ballot, but 17 presidential write-in candidates’ names will not.

The first constitutional amendment this year would let the state take control of “chronically failing public schools,” the second would use sex crime fines and taxes on adult entertainment to fund services for victims of sexual exploitation, the third would change the state Judicial Qualifications Commission that regulates judges, and the fourth would use taxes on fireworks to fund trauma care and firefighter training and gear.

The Alabama ballot

Georgians who find deciphering four constitutional amendments a chore should be glad they’re not in Alabama, where the ballot has 14, some related only to single counties, though everyone votes on them.

Besides the presidential race and 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.

Russell County operates its polls on Eastern time. They are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., which is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central time.

The county just had to relocate one poll.

Voters who used the National Guard Amory at 3614 S. Railroad St. in Phenix City this year will use the Golden Acres Baptist Church across the street.

The poll that serves around 1,200 northwest Phenix City residents had to leave the 3405 S. Railroad St. armory because it’s under renovation, said Probate Judge Alford Harden.

THE RUSSELL COUNTY BALLOT

These are the contested races on Russell County’s Tuesday ballot:

STRAIGHT PARTY VOTING

ALABAMA DEMOCRATIC PARTY

ALABAMA REPUBLICAN PARTY

FOR PRESIDENT AND VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

TIMOTHY MICHAEL KAINE

Democrat

DONALD J. TRUMP

MICHAEL R. PENCE

Republican

GARY JOHNSON

WILLIAM WELD

Independent

JILL STEIN

AJAMU BARAKA

Independent

FOR UNITED STATES SENATOR

RON CRUMPTON

RICHARD SHELBY

FOR UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE

3RD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

JESSE SMITH

Democrat

MIKE ROGERS

Republican

FOR MEMBER

RUSSELL COUNTY COMMISSION

DISTRICT NO. 1

LaTOYA PAYNE

Democrat

GENTRY LEE

Republican

FOR MEMBER

RUSSELL COUNTY COMMISSION

DISTRICT NO. 2

TILLMAN PUGH

Democrat

CARL CURRINGTON

Republican

FOR MEMBER

RUSSELL COUNTY COMMISSION

DISTRICT NO. 6

BERNARD McKISSIC

Democrat

CHANCE CORBETT

Republican

CHARLES LAMAR SIZEMORE

Independent

FOR MEMBER

RUSSELL COUNTY COMMISSION

DISTRICT NO. 7

LARRY D. SCREWS

Democrat

WANDA KING LAMB

Republican

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS WHICH APPLY TO THE STATE AT LARGE

PROPOSED STATEWIDE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NUMBER ONE

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to establish procedures to ensure that no more than three of the members of the Auburn University Board of Trustees shall have terms that expire in the same calendar year and to add two additional at-large members to the board to enhance diversity on the board. (Proposed by Act No. 2015-217)

( ) YES

( ) NO

PROPOSED STATEWIDE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NUMBER TWO

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to prohibit any monies from the State Parks Fund, the Parks Revolving Fund, or any fund receiving revenues currently deposited in the State Parks Fund or the Parks Revolving Fund, and any monies currently designated pursuant to statute for the use of the state parks system from being transferred for another purpose other than the support, upkeep, and maintenance of the state parks system.

Notwithstanding, in the event that guest revenues to the State Parks Revolving Fund exceed the threshold of $50 million (as annually adjusted based on increases in the consumer price index) in a fiscal year, the sales and use and cigarette tax revenue distributed to benefit the State Parks System shall be reduced in the following fiscal year. The amount of the reduction shall correspond to the amount of guest revenue to the State Parks Revolving Fund exceeding the threshold. The amount of tax revenue not distributed to benefit the State Parks System shall be distributed to the General Fund.

Proposing an amendment to Amendment 617 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to allow the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources the option to provide for the operation and management, by non-state entities, of hotels, golf courses, and restaurants at any applicable state parks in Alabama. (Proposed by Act No. 2016-145)

( ) YES

( ) NO

PROPOSED STATEWIDE AMENDMENT NUMBER THREE

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to revise the procedure for adoption of local constitutional amendments to provide that a proposed constitutional amendment the Legislature determines without a dissenting vote applies to only one county or a political subdivision within one or more counties shall be adopted as a valid part of the constitution by a favorable vote of a majority of the qualified electors of the affected county or the political subdivision and county or counties in which the political subdivision is located, who vote on the amendment. (Proposed by Act No. 2015-44)

( ) YES

( ) NO

PROPOSED STATEWIDE AMENDMENT NUMBER FOUR

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize each county commission in the state to establish, subject to certain limitations, certain programs related to the administration of the affairs of the county. (Proposed by Act No. 2015-220)

( ) YES

( ) NO

PROPOSED STATEWIDE AMENDMENT NUMBER FIVE

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to repeal and restate the provisions of Article III of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 relating to separation of powers to modernize the language without making any substantive change, effective January 1, 2017. (Proposed by Act No. 2015-200)

( ) YES

( ) NO

PROPOSED STATEWIDE AMENDMENT NUMBER SIX

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to become operative January 1, 2017, to repeal and replace Article VII, Impeachments. (Proposed by Act No. 2015-199)

( ) YES

( ) NO

PROPOSED STATEWIDE AMENDMENT NUMBER SEVEN

Relating to Etowah County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that the employees of the Office of Sheriff of Etowah County, except for the chief deputy, chief of detention, chief of administration, chief of investigation, director of communications, and food service manager, shall be under the authority of the Personnel Board of the Office of the Sheriff of Etowah County. . (Proposed by Act No. 2015-97)

( ) YES

( ) NO

PROPOSED STATEWIDE AMENDMENT NUMBER EIGHT

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to declare that it is the public policy of Alabama that the right of persons to work may not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in a labor union or labor organization; to prohibit an agreement to deny the right to work, or place conditions on prospective employment, on account of membership or nonmembership in a labor union or labor organization; to prohibit an employer from requiring its employees to abstain from union membership as a condition of employment; and to provide that an employer may not require a person, as a condition of employment or continuation of employment, to pay dues, fees, or other charges of any kind to any labor union or labor organization. (Proposed by Act No. 2016-86)

( ) YES

( ) NO

PROPOSED STATEWIDE AMENDMENT NUMBER NINE

A local constitutional amendment to the to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901; to provide that a person who is not over the age of 75 at the time of qualifying for election or at the time of his appointment may be elected or appointed to the office of Judge of Probate of Pickens County. (Proposed by Act No. 2016-120)

( ) YES

( ) NO

PROPOSED STATEWIDE AMENDMENT NUMBER TEN

An amendment to Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that any territory located in Calhoun County would be subject only to the police jurisdiction and planning jurisdiction of a municipality located wholly or partially in the county. (Proposed by Act No. 2016-144)

( ) YES

( ) NO

PROPOSED STATEWIDE AMENDMENT NUMBER ELEVEN

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to permit cities and counties, notwithstanding any existing constitutional restrictions, to utilize tax increment district revenues collected within a Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone and other moneys to incentivize the establishment and improve various types of manufacturing facilities located or to be located in such Zone, and to validate and confirm the Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone Act, Act No. 2013-51. (Proposed by Act No. 2016-267)

( ) YES

( ) NO

PROPOSED STATEWIDE AMENDMENT NUMBER TWELVE

Relating to municipalities in Baldwin County; proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize the Legislature by general or local law to provide for any municipalities in the county to incorporate a toll road and bridge authority as a public corporation in the municipality for the construction and operation of toll roads and bridges in the municipality and to authorize the authority to issue revenue bonds to finance the projects. (Proposed by Act No. 2016-274)

( ) YES

( ) NO

PROPOSED STATEWIDE AMENDMENT NUMBER THIRTEEN

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to repeal any existing age restriction on the appointment, election, or service of an appointed or elected official, with the exception of persons elected or appointed to a judicial office, currently imposed by a provision of the Constitution or other law; and to prohibit the Legislature from enacting any law imposing a maximum age limitation on the appointment, election, or service of an appointed or elected official. (Proposed by Act No. 2016-429)

( ) YES

( ) NO

PROPOSED STATEWIDE AMENDMENT NUMBER FOURTEEN

To propose an amendment to Amendment 448 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 71.01 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to ratify, approve, validate, and confirm the application of any budget isolation resolution authorizing the consideration of a bill proposing a local law adopted by the Legislature before November 8, 2016, that conformed to the rules of either body of the Legislature at the time it was adopted. (Proposed by Act No. 2016-430)

( ) YES

( ) NO

This is a “composite” ballot listing all of Muscogee County’s contested races. Individual ballots will vary based on which state senate and congressional districts voters live in.

For President of the United States

DONALD J. TRUMP – President

MICHAEL R. PENCE – Vice President

Republican

HILLARY CLINTON –President

TIM KAINE – Vice President

Democrat

GARY JOHNSON – President

BILL WELD – Vice President

Libertarian

CHERUNDA FOX

Write-In

CLAIRE ELISABETH ELLIOTT

Write-In

DARRELL CASTLE

Write-In

DAVID C. BYRNE

Write-In

EVAN MCMULLIN

Write-In

JILL STEIN

Write-In

LAURENCE KOTLIKOFF

Write-In

LOREN COLLINS

Write-In

MARC URBACH

Write-In

MICHAEL L. SMITH

Write-In

MIKE MATUREN

Write-In

RICKY MUHAMMAD

Write-In

ROBERT BUCHANAN

Write-In

SANDRA WILSON

Write-In

SCOTT CUBBLER

Write-In

STEPHEN L ALLEN

Write-In

THOMAS HOEFLING

Write-In

For United States Senate

JOHNNY ISAKSON

(Incumbent) Republican

JIM BARKSDALE

Democrat

ALLEN BUCKLEY

Libertarian

MICHELLE GATES

Write-In

For Public Service Commissioner

(To Succeed Tim Echols)

Tim Echols

(Incumbent) Republican

Eric Hoskins

Libertarian

For U.S. Representative In 115th Congress From the 2nd Congressional District of Georgia

GREG DUKE

Republican

SANFORD BISHOP

Democrat

For U.S. Representative In 115th Congress From the 3rd Congressional District of Georgia

DREW FERGUSON

Republican

ANGELA PENDLEY

Democrat

For State Senator From 29th District

JOSH MCKOON

(Incumbent) Republican

BEN ANDERSON

Democrat

For Clerk of Superior Court

ANN L. HARDMAN

Democrat

MIKE GARNER

Write-in

For Sheriff

MARK LAJOYE

Republican

DONNA TOMPKINS

Democrat

JOHN T. DARR

(Incumbent) Independent

PAM BROWN

Write-In

PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

1

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 ”

2

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 ”

3

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 ”

4

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 ”

SPECIAL ELECTION

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

MUSCOGEE COUNTY VOTING PRECINCTS

Wynnton Methodist Church, 2412 Wynnton Road.

Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Road.

St. John AME Church, 3980 Steam Mill Road.

Britt David Baptist Church, 2801 Britt David Road.

St. Peter Methodist Church, 6507 Moon Road.

Cornerstone Church of God, 7701 Lloyd Road.

Columbus Tech, 928 Manchester Expwy.

St. Mark UMC, 6795 Whitesville Road.

Wynnbrook Baptist Church, 500 River Knoll Way.

Cusseta Road Church of Christ, 3013 Cusseta Road.

National Infantry Museum, 1775 Legacy Way.

Eddy Middle School, 2100 S. Lumpkin Road.

Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church, 4400 Old Cusseta Road.

Faith Tabernacle Church, 1603 Floyd Road.

Fort Middle School, 2900 Woodruff Farm Road.

Rothschild Middle School, 1136 Hunt Ave.

Church of Jesus Christ LDS, 4400 Reese Road.

St. Paul Methodist Church, 2101 Wildwood Ave.

North Highland Assembly of God, 7300 Whittlesey Blvd.

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, 4980 Hancock Road.

*Salvation Army Church, 5201 Warm Springs Road.

First African Baptist Church, 901 Fifth Ave.

Epworth UMC, 2400 Devonshire Drive.

Marianna Gallops Center, 1212 15th St.

Edgewood Baptist Church, 3564 Forrest Road.

Psalmond Road Rec Center, 6500 Psalmond Road.

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