In the first five days of early voting, 278 Bulloch County residents cast ballots in Republican runoffs for governor, lieutenant governor, Georgia secretary of state and one county commission seat and a single Democratic Party runoff for state school superintendent.
In-person early voting will continue 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday until July 20 in the Board of Elections and Registration area of the County Annex, 113 N. Main St.
So far, 180 voters have been mailed no-excuse absentee ballots, and these remain available for mailing to voters who request them until July 20. Tuesday, July 24, will be the regular Election Day, with voting from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. in all 16 of Bulloch County's precincts.
Because this election is technically a continuation of the May 22 party primaries, crossover voting, in which people who voted the Democratic ballot May 22 would now vote using the Republican ballot, or vice versa, is not allowed.
"Democrats and Republicans have to vote the way they voted in May," said Bulloch County Election Supervisor Patricia Lanier Jones. She doesn't mean literally for the same candidates, but with the same party's ballot.
However, registered voters who did not vote at all in May can now choose to vote either Democrat or Republican in the runoffs, she noted. Voters who voted only the nonpartisan ballot in May can also choose a party and vote in its runoffs, but there are no nonpartisan runoffs here.
Crossover voting is prohibited so that no one voter can pick two opposing candidates for the general election.
For example, if those who voted in the Democratic primary, where former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams emerged as her party's nominee for governor, were allowed to vote in the Republican runoff, they could also choose whether Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle or Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be the GOP gubernatorial nominee.
Choosing nominees for both parties isn't allowed. But in the Nov. 6 general election, every voter, regardless of their choices in the primary, will be free to vote for any candidate still in the race.
GOP state runoffs
Cagle and Kemp top the Republican runoff ballot. Republican voters statewide are also choosing between former state Rep. Geoff Duncan of Cumming and former state Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer of Duluth to be the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor. Meanwhile, the GOP runoff for secretary of state pits Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle against state Rep. Brad Raffensperger of Johns Creek.
Either Duncan or Shafer will face Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Sarah Riggs Amico, executive chair of a Kennesaw-based car-transport company, in the Nov. 6 general election. Former 12th District U.S. Rep. John Barrow took 51.5 percent of the votes in the Democratic primary for secretary of state and so will face either Belle Isle or Raffensperger on the November ballot.
The one Bulloch County Board of Commissioners race in the runoff pits former Statesboro City Councilman Travis Chance against incumbent Commissioner Walter C. Gibson for the Republican nomination to Seat 2-B. This is another decision that people who voted in the May 22 Democratic primary can't participate in at this phase, since it appears only on the Republican ballot, and then only in Commissioner District 2, which encompasses more than half of the county.
However, the winner between Chance and Gibson will be only the GOP nominee and will face a Democrat, Adrienne Dobbs, in the November general election.
Democrats' one runoff
The only thing on the Democratic Party runoff ballot, on July 24 and in this early voting, is the race between Sid Chapman and Otha E. Thornton Jr. for their party's nomination for state school superintendent. Chapman, Ed.D., from Griffin, is a former president of the Georgia Association of Educators who was earlier its vice president and a high school social studies teacher. Thornton, from Bryan County, is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and past president of the National Parent Teacher Association. The winner of the runoff will challenge Republican incumbent Superintendent Richard Woods on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Early voting opened July 2, but the election office was open only four days last week because of the July 4 holiday. The total of 278 in-person early voters is from 5 p.m. Monday, the conclusion of the fifth day. There will be no local Saturday voting in the runoff.
Also, the last day to register to vote in the runoff was April 24, again, because it is a continuation of the May 22 primary.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.