Georgia’s earliest general election primary in recent memory is set for Tuesday.
Early voting came to an end Friday, with 1,580 Bulloch County residents taking advantage during the four-week period. That represents just less than 5 percent of the county’s 32,161 active voters, Bulloch County Deputy Registrar Shontay Jones said Friday.
Those numbers, Jones added, do not include absentee and paper ballots.
Next up is primary day, Tuesday, when the normal precincts throughout the county will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Perhaps the highest-profile local race is the special election for Bulloch County clerk of courts. The race is nonpartisan, meaning it will appear on both Democratic and Republican ballots. Alvie Coes III and Heather Banks McNeal are the candidates.
The special election is necessary because the last clerk of courts, Teresa Tucker, resigned effective Dec. 31 as part of an earlier guilty plea to two felony counts of violation of oath of public office. Charles Sikes, a former special agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Statesboro office, is serving as the interim clerk. Sikes has said he will resign as soon as a new clerk is sworn into office after the election.
The winner of this election will serve the remainder of Tucker’s unexpired term, which runs through January 2017.
One local legislator faces opposition, but not until the Nov. 4 general election. Denise G. Collins, of Guyton, qualified as an independent candidate and will face Republican incumbent state Rep. Jon G. Burns, of Newington, for the Georgia House District 159 seat.
And while incumbent U.S. Rep. John Barrow, a Democrat from Augusta, faces no opposition in the primary, five Republicans are vying for the opportunity to face him in the November general election. Republican voters in the 12th Congressional District, which includes all of Bulloch County, will choose among Rick Allen of Augusta, state Rep. Delvis Dutton of Glennville, John Stone of Augusta, Diane Vann of Macon and Eugene Yu of Augusta.
Other local races are:
County Commissioner, Seat 1-B, Jacquavius “Jac” Roberson challenging incumbent Anthony Simmons in the Democratic primary
County Commissioner, Seat 2-D, Jim Anderson Benton challenging incumbent Robert Rushing in the Republican primary
Board of Education, District 5, Glennera Martin challenging incumbent Vernon Littles (nonpartisan)
Board of Education, District 6, Jimmy T. “Jay” Cook Jr. challenging incumbent Anshul Jain (nonpartisan)
Voters will also get to weigh in on several statewide races. Among the ones attracting the most attention are contests for governor and an open U.S. Senate seat.
On the Republican side, Gov. Nathan Deal is in the unusual position of facing opposition from his own party. State School Superintendent John D. Barge and former Dalton Mayor David Pennington will appear on the GOP ballot with Deal. They are vying for the right to face State Sen. Jason Carter of Decatur, who is unopposed on the Democratic ballot.
The U.S. Senate seat is open because Republican Saxby Chambliss announced last year that he will not seek re-election. That has led to a crowded field for both parties.
Republicans will choose among U.S. Reps. Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston, as well as businessman David Perdue, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, attorney Art Gardner and engineer Derrick Grayson. Democrats will choose among former state Sen. Steen Miles, former nonprofit executive Michelle Nunn, physician Branko Radulovacki and educator Todd Robinson.
A state down-ballot race features retired insurance professional Elizabeth N. “Liz” Johnson of Statesboro running in the Democratic primary for state insurance commissioner against insurance associate Keith G. Heard of Fayetteville. The winner will face Republican incumbent Ralph T. Hudgens in November.
On primary day, residents must bring valid photo identification. Valid forms of ID are a Georgia driver's license; valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. government, state of Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity in this state; or a valid U.S. passport, U.S. military photo ID or tribal photo ID.
For information about elections or where to vote, people can contact the Bulloch County Board of Elections at (912) 764-6502 or (912) 489-1677, or visit the "My Voter" page at www.sos.ga.gov/mvp.
Jason Wermers may be reached at (912) 489-9431.