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Early voting indicates light turnout
Council race on city ballot; Sunday sales, SPLOST on all
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    If Statesboro and Bulloch County residents participate in city and county elections this year, the overwhelming majority will do so today at the polls.
    According to Shontay Jones with the Bulloch County Registrar’s Office, approximately 3 percent of Statesboro’s eligible voters took advantage of the early/advanced voting period between Oct. 17 and Nov. 4, and about 2 percent of Bulloch County’s registered voters cast early ballots.
    Despite a contested Statesboro City Council seat, as well as referendums calling for the sale of alcohol on Sundays and the continuation of a one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), many local voters have, thus far, remained silent.
    “I thought the voter turnout overall was pretty low, given what is on the ballot,” Jones said. “I was expecting a lot more voters because of the referendums. We were expecting a big crowd.”
    Just 500 ballots have been filled in the City of Statesboro, which, as of November 1, is home to 14,341 eligible voters — 11,376 active and 2,965 inactive.
    City election ballots include a contested race for the District 2 city council seat and referendums to permit the sale of alcohol on Sundays — one referendum question would allow sales in grocery and convenience stores, another in restaurants.
    Incumbent City Councilman Gary Lewis is facing opposition from challengers Sam Jones, Don Logan and Lance Turner for the District 2 office.
    Lewis, Jones and Turner say they will provide rides to and from the polls for voters on Election Day.
    In Statesboro’s Precinct 1, which includes Districts 1 and 2, a total of 343 ballots were completed early.
    A combined 6,473 registered voters live in the two districts.
    In Precinct 2 (Districts 3, 4 and 5), just 157 of 7,868 registered individuals voted early.
    For the Bulloch County Special Election, 853 of the county’s 38,427 registered voters (32,059 active) completed ballots that ask people to decide on Sunday alcohol sales and a SPLOST referendum — the SPLOST question would extend the tax for an additional six years to fund capital improvement products throughout Bulloch County.
    Having forgone the opportunity to vote early, some Statesboro residents will have to visit two polling locations on Election Day.
    Citizens living in Council Districts 1 and 2 can visit the William James Complex at 150 Williams Road to participate in city elections, and voters in Districts 3, 4 and 5 can submit ballots at the Honey Bowen Building on Max Lockwood Drive.
    But to participate in the Bulloch County Special Election, voters will need to visit their respective county voting precinct. Precincts include: Statesboro Precinct at the William James Complex, Fair Precinct at the Kiwanis Fair Grounds, Church Precinct at Statesboro Primitive Baptist Church and Pittman Park Precinct at Pittman Park United Methodist Church.
    “We thought that those voters would come in and do the early voting so they did not have to go two places,” Jones said. “I am hoping it does not discourage voters from not voting or going to just one location. Everyone that did not get a chance to take advantage of early voting should go and vote in both the city and county elections.”
    Polls will remain open today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for both elections.
    Anyone wishing to cast a ballot must be a registered voter in Statesboro or Bulloch County and present some form of photo identification at the polling location.
   
    Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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