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First-week early voting surpasses 2014 and 2016
Voting on campus Tuesday–Thursday, at annex this Saturday
early voting
Harper Cain, 4, bottom, listens quietly as mom Hayley Caine, center, Melissa Sapp, far left, and Teresa Hagan take one last glance at a sample ballot before casting their votes during early voting at the Bulloch County Annex on Monday. (SCOTT BRYANT/staff)

Last week 2,794 Bulloch County voters cast ballots in-person during the first five days of early voting for the Nov. 6 general election.

That was more than triple the number from first-week early voting during the last election of a governor and 19 percent more than in the first week of the last presidential election. During the first week of the 2014 election, when Gov. Nathan Deal was re-elected, only 705 Bulloch residents cast early ballots. In 2016, when President Donald Trump was elected, 2,347 local voters cast ballots the first week. Back in 2012, when President Barack Obama was elected to his second term, the number had been 1,989.

Presidential elections typically draw more early voters and more voters in general. So last week's possibly record start is especially impressive for a gubernatorial election, acknowledged Bulloch County Election Supervisor Patricia Lanier Jones, who supplied these numbers.

"We voted 447 more people than we did the first week of the presidential. …," Jones said Friday. "We had them lined up out our office door at one time."

She meant out into the hallway, not on the outside of the building.

The Board of Elections and Registration office area, in the county annex at 113 N. Main St., Statesboro, will remain open for early voting 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Friday until Nov. 2. But this week and next bring additional opportunities, with two other locations that open for a few days each and with the annex hosting Saturday voting, this Saturday only.

GS campus voting

This Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 23, 24 and 25, early voting will be possible on the Georgia Southern University campus, in Room 1042 of the Russell Union, 85 Georgia Ave., also 8 a.m.–5 p.m. As with the other locations, any registered Bulloch County voters may cast their ballots there.

Saturday voting

This Saturday, Oct. 27, is the one Saturday available for early voting, and the hours are a little different than on weekdays. Again, the county annex at 113 N. Main St. will be the only location for Saturday voting in Bulloch County, and it will be open for that purpose 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

Honey Bowen next week

Next week, for the final five days of early voting, Monday–Friday, Oct. 29–Nov. 2, the Honey Bowen Building, 1 Max Lockwood Drive at the Fair Road Park, will open to voters from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. The annex location will also remain open, giving final-week early-voters a choice of two possible places to vote.

But all in-person early voting opportunities cease at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2. The elections office staff can also mail no-excuse absentee paper ballots to voters who apply by Nov. 2. But applying earlier helps ensure that ballots arrive on time. They can be returned to the elections office by the close of polls on the regular election day, Nov. 6.

As of Friday, 1,055 absentee ballots had been mailed to voters who requested them, Jones said.

Election Day

Tuesday, Nov. 6, all of Bulloch's traditional precinct voting places will be open 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Voters who have not voted early will need to report to the poll in their assigned precinct.

While early voting is off to a busier start, the number of registered voters has also increased from previous election years. For the current election, the number of active, registered voters in Bulloch County is 39,825, Lanier reported. A July 2016 state list showed the number of active Bulloch voters as 30,083.

Voter registration for the current election ended Oct. 9.

Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.

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