Inconvenience will be a less valid excuse for people not voting in the 2012 Presidential Preference Primary once polling locations around the state open doors this weekend for Saturday voting.
As a result of legislation that reduced the number of early voting days from 45 to 21, state lawmakers agreed to allow, for the first time, ballots be cast from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on one Saturday during the Advanced Voting period.
This weekend, anyone hoping to avoid congested lines at the polls on the Primary Election Day (March 6) can do so by stopping in at the Bulloch County Courthouse to cast their ballot.
“This is going to be the first time for us and the voters to be here on a Saturday for voting,” said Shontay Jones, of the Bulloch County Registrar’s Office. “Every voter I have spoken to, I have encouraged to take advantage of the convenient voting. We are hoping a lot of people take advantage of the extra day.”
Jones said it is difficult to predict how many voters will actually use the added day, but if early voting results to-date offer any clue — in-person early voting began Feb. 13 — the number could be low.
“We’re definitely hoping more people will come out and cast a ballot in advance, so they won’t have to worry about it on Election Day,” Jones said. “Of course, it will be hard to tell what kind of turnout we’ll see. Our in-person voting numbers have been kind of low; turnout has been steady, but slow.”
As of Feb. 20, a total of 201 in-person ballots were completed and another 43 mailed ballots had been received, she said.
The modest turnout is likely a result of limited issues for voters to decide, she said.
Unlike the 2008 Presidential Primary, only Republican ballots feature a contested race and just one question appears on all ballots — the question asks whether Sunday alcohol sales by the drink should be allowed in Bulloch County; affected establishments include Crabby Joe's Seafood, Bar & Grill, Forest Heights Country Club and the Statesboro Moose Lodge.
Following Saturday, voters will have one final week to participate in the Early Voting period.
Ballots will not be accepted later than 5 p.m. Friday, March 2.
To participate during early voting or on Election Day voters must present a valid picture ID. Acceptable identification includes a Georgia driver’s license, a Georgia voter ID card, a valid U.S. passport, military ID or a picture ID card from a Federal, state or local government agency.
To learn how and where to register, or receive additional election information, people can contact the Bulloch County Board of Elections and Registration by calling (912) 764-6502.
Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.