One thing seems certain: No matter who wins the fight over counting ballots in the governor’s race between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp, Georgia will have a runoff Dec. 4.
That’s because no candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote Tuesday in two other state races, for Secretary of State and for a Public Service Commission post.
Libertarians in each race siphoned enough votes from the major parties to keep their competitors from gaining a majority. Libertarian Smythe DuVal got about 2 percent in the Secretary of State’s race, and Ryan Graham got about 2.5 percent in his run for Public Service Commission.
So in a couple of weeks, early voting will begin again, with at least these choices:
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▪ Republican Brad Raffensberger and Democrat John Barrow will face off for the Secretary of State office Brian Kemp just vacated.
▪ Incumbent Republican Chuck Eaton and Democrat Lindy Miller will vie for the 3rd District Public Service Commission seat.
One more time
Early voting starts Nov. 26 – the Monday after a four-day Thanksgiving weekend, for some people – and it lasts just five days, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Nov. 30 in the City Services Center, 3111 Citizens Way, off Macon Road by the Columbus Public Library.
“That’s if everything goes as planned,” cautioned Nancy Boren, executive director of the Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registrations.
Tuesday’s vote still has to be certified, to document the tallies needed for runoffs. Legal maneuvers in the governor’s race could affect that.
Only people who were eligible to vote in the General Election may vote in the runoff, but they do not have to have voted, they just have to have been registered to.
As usual, they must show a government-issued photo ID to vote, such as a driver’s license, a state identification card residents can get at driver’s license bureaus, a U.S. passport, a military or other government employee ID, or a tribal identification card.
Much of this week will be devoted to wrapping up the work left from last week: The Muscogee County elections board is to certify vote tallies Tuesday when it meets at 10:30 a.m. in the elections office in the City Services Center.
The total count shows 63,196 out of 112,540 Columbus voters cast ballots last week, an impressive midterm turnout of 56 percent.
Besides certifying the vote count, the elections board must decide which of 352 provisional ballots will be counted.
Voters cast provisional ballots when they encounter some problem at the polls, such as not showing on the Muscogee County voter rolls or lacking the required identification.
The elections board can’t meet Monday, because that’s when the government shuts down to observe Veterans Day.
Once results are certified here, they go to the Secretary of State’s office, which compiles them with other county results to certify tallies statewide.
Also this week, Danielle Forte will take office as Muscogee Superior Court clerk, having defeated incumbent Shasta Thomas Glover 31,773 votes to 24,276, or 56.36 to 43.06 percent. Three hundred and twenty-nine write-in votes made up the remaining .58 percent.
Because it was a special election to fill the unexpired term of the late Ann Hardman, who died March 19 – the same day Glover, her chief deputy, took over – Forte does not wait until January to take office, like other new leaders such as Mayor-elect Skip Henderson. She starts as soon as the vote’s certified.
Forte said Probate Judge Marc D’Antonio will swear her in early this week, so she can get to work, and then she likely will have a public ceremony Friday at the Government Center.
So, change is coming, as we like to say, but the election is not over. Yet.