In an election where far more people voted early than on the final Election Day, a majority of Bulloch County voters chose President Donald Trump to remain as president instead of seeking to replace him with former Vice President Joe Biden.
But that doesn’t mean that the nation went the same way. The presidential election remained undecided Wednesday afternoon, with several closely contested states, carrying significant weight in the Electoral College, still counting votes. Georgia remained one of those states as of 3 p.m., with results from a few large urban counties considered incomplete.
Officially, Bulloch County’s results also remained less than final, but that is almost always the case for two or three days after an election. Local election officials were evaluating provisional ballots – such as those of voters who didn’t have their ID or who went to the wrong precinct within the county. But there were not enough of these to change the direction of the county results.
As of Tuesday night, the tally of Bulloch County voter was 18,358 for Trump, the Republican, to 11,198 for Biden, the Democrat, or 61.2% to 37.3%. The other 1.5%, or 454 votes, or 1.5%, went to Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian candidate.
A majority of Bulloch County voters, 18,205 or 61.25%, also chose Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. David Perdue over Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, who received 10,804 votes, or 36.35% of the county total, while Libertarian Shane Hazel got 715 votes here, or 2.4%. Perdue led statewide with a little over 50% of votes, but whether he won re-election outright or will be in a runoff with Ossoff depends on the final count.
In the 20-candidate special election for the seat held by U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the three leading candidates’ vote totals in Bulloch County were 8,932 for Loeffler, 7,846 for her same-party, Republican, rival Doug Collins and 6,647 for leading Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock.
Statewide, Warnock led with 32.2% of the votes and is now headed to a Jan. 5 runoff with Loeffler, who captured 26.3% votes, while Collins had 20.3%.
Most voters ever?
The Bulloch County turnout in this election was 67.4% of registered voters, and so did not equal the 73.5% turnout in the 2016 presidential general election as a percentage.
However, the county’s number of registered voters had increased from 34,926 four years ago to 44,738 now. Bulloch’s actual number of voters in the election that ended Tuesday, 30,154, surpassed the 25,695 ballots cast in the 2016 election, and may be the most voters in a single election in the county’s history.
This time, 14,408 Bulloch voters cast ballots during the 16 days of in-person early voting and 6,448 more completed absentee ballots, but only 9,298, and probably a few more to be added from provisional ballots, voted on Election Day.
This resulted in much shorter lines Tuesday, especially at the largest precincts, than on past presidential Election Days. Fair Precinct is the largest, with 6,335 voters, but after more than 3,300 of them voted early, only about 800 people came to vote Tuesday in the big building at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fairgrounds.
The busiest time there was just after the polls opened at 7 a.m., said Fair Precinct assistant poll manager Ann Price. After that, the voter traffic was slower but steady for the rest of the day. Price had a unique perspective, since she was poll manager at Fair Precinct in 2016 and manager for early voting at the Honey Bowen Building during the six days it was open for that purpose this time around.
“I don’t think there’s any real comparison because we’ve never had early voting, that I’ve ever seen, like we had this year,” she said when asked to compare 2020 and 2016.
“It was incredible the way people turned out (at the Honey Bowen Building),” Price said. “We packed them in there, and especially the last day. But it didn’t slow down all week.”
Still, she was surprised that fewer than 1,000 voters filed through Tuesday at the Fair Precinct, where thousands have voted on previous election days.
Poll managers at the Statesboro Precinct in the William James Educational Complex and the precinct at Pittman Park United Methodist Church told similar stories of Tuesday’s voter flow. A line formed first thing in the morning but dissipated within an hour or two. Some, but not all of these large precincts saw a small rush of voters at lunchtime, but mostly there was a steady trickle throughout the day.
The Rev. Jimmy Cason, who retired earlier this year as senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Statesboro, served as a poll worker this season for the first time, through early voting and then Tuesday at the Fair Precinct. Meanwhile, his wife Susan was a poll worker at Pittman Park. Jimmy Cason made an effort to identify young first-time voters for a round of applause.
One final-hour, first-time voter at Fair was Robert Reed, 21. He said he hadn’t taken voting seriously at first but that people in his generation are now influencing one another, such as through social media, to vote because of the impact it can have.
“I’m trying to make the country a better place by just voting,” Reed said outside the building. “So my single vote might make a change, you never know. Hopefully with the person I picked tonight in this election, we can look forward to a better country.”
Some other local results:
In the 12th District congressional race, Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Rick Allen captured 18,785 votes to Democratic challenger Elizabeth “Liz” Johnson’s 10,650. In State House District 158, Republican incumbent state Rep. Butch Parrish received 3,018 Bulloch County votes to Democratic candidate Ann Gleason’s 2,265.
Jake Futch will continue to serve as Bulloch County coroner, after receiving 19,623 votes to challenger Jonathan Paine’s 9,747.