With this Saturday being the only day for Saturday voting and five weekdays of early voting to go, almost 23 percent of Bulloch County's registered voters have already cast ballots for the Nov. 8 general election.
The count as of 5 p.m. Friday was 7,940 participating voters, reported Bulloch County Election Supervisor Patricia Lanier Jones. This included 7,380 voters who voted in-person at two advanced-voting locations, plus 560 paper absentee ballots returned so far.
The three days of in-person early voting on the Georgia Southern University campus produced a new record for voting there. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, county poll workers staffed a voting area in the Russell Union student center. It was available to any Bulloch County voters who wanted to vote there but was provided for the convenience of students and university employees.
"We have voted 2,084 at GSU this week!" Jones said after the site closed Thursday evening. "We broke the 2012 record of 1,932."
That on-campus total was for the last presidential election, in November 2012, when three days of advanced voting opportunity were offered at the GS Russell Union, just like this year. The on-campus site will not open Saturday, and will not reopen next week.
Oct. 29 is Georgia's statewide date for Saturday voting. In Bulloch County, the two sites available are the voting office area of County Annex at 113 N. Main St. and the Recreation Department's Honey Bowen Building on Max Lockwood Drive at Fair Road Park. The hours for Saturday voting, 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., are a little different than the hours for weekday advanced voting.
Two sites, 5 more days
Both the County Annex and Honey Bowen Building will also be open for advanced voting next week, 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Early voting will close at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4. There will be no in-person early voting on Monday, Nov. 7.
Then, Election Day
But of course, all 16 Bulloch County precincts will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8. Unlike early voting, when voters from all over the county can vote at the few designated sites, Election Day voters must report to their assigned precinct polls.
Paper absentee ballots can be mailed out until Nov. 4, and are accepted if returned by mail or in person by the voter, or by a designee for someone with a disability, by the close of voting Nov. 8. Applications are available at the local elections office and online at the statewide My Voter Page, www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.
Could hit 70 percent
The 7,940 who have voted so far amount to 22.9 percent of the 34,626 Bulloch voters registered and in active status. So, voter participation has already surpassed the 19.6 percent total turnout for the July primary runoff, which involved only Superior Court and Probate Court judgeships.
The current trend suggests that early and absentee voting in the general election could surpass the 32.65 percent total turnout in the May state and local primary, Jones said.
Total Bulloch County turnout in the November 2012 general election, which included the race between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, was 67.8 percent. Jones has said she wouldn't be surprised if this fall's total turnout hits 70 percent.