Next week will be a busy one at the Bulloch County elections office, with the first week of advanced voting in the March 24 presidential primary overlapping candidate qualifying week for the May 19 state and county primaries and nonpartisan general election.
As if that weren’t enough, the Presidential Preference Primary advanced voting will be the first use of Georgia’s new multi-device, combination touchscreen and printed ballot voting equipment.
“Be patient,” is Bulloch County Election Supervisor Patricia Lanier Jones’ advice to voters. “We’re all new at this.”
A sign will instruct voters not to leave the advanced voting area with their printed ballots. That some voters may want to take their ballots with them will probably be one challenge as everyone learns the new system, Jones said.
After making their selections on a touchscreen, voters will receive a printed ballot from the connected electronic printer. The voter gets to check over the ballot, but to count, it must be fed into the scanner and ballot-box unit. Ballots have to remain in the locked box to be available for any recounts or challenges.
Advanced voting in the presidential primary begins Monday at 8 a.m. and will continue, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. until March 20. For this election there will also be one Saturday of voting, March 14, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
The only Bulloch County location for advanced and Saturday voting will be the Board of Elections and Registration office, in the County Annex at 113 North Main St., Statesboro.
Except in some other counties where there are added special elections, Republican voters have just one candidate, President Donald Trump, on their ballot in Georgia. The available sample Democratic ballot shows 12 candidates, although four of them – Michael Bennett, John Delaney, Deval Patrick and Andrew Yang – have withdrawn from the race.
As of now, Bulloch County has 172 of the new voting machine sets for the March 24 presidential vote, Jones said. But she is awaiting delivery of 16 more for the May and November elections. She is deploying just eight machines for this round of early voting.
For more information on the new voting system, go online to SecureVoteGA.com. For sample ballots, check in at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.
Qualifying ends Friday at noon
This is the first time ever that qualifying for one election has overlapped advanced voting in another election here, said Jones, who worked in Bulloch elections long before Georgia instituted in-person early voting.
For aspiring candidates for county offices, the opportunity to qualify for the May 19 state and local party primaries and nonpartisan general election begins at 9 a.m. Monday and ends at noon Friday, spanning the election office’s regular hours on the days between.
County offices up
With the exception of the State Court judgeship, recently filled by special appointment until 2022, all countywide elected offices are due for election.
Qualifying fees are $3,816.01 for State Court solicitor general, $2,347.42 for sheriff, $2,034 for clerk of courts and also $2,034 for tax commissioner, $630 for coroner and $100 for county surveyor.
The chair of the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners, currently help by Roy Thompson, is also up for election this year. So are commission seats 1A, currently held by Ray Mosley; 2A, currently held by Curt Deal; and 2C, currently held by Jappy Stringer.
Qualifying fees are $600 for the commission chair and $225 for each of the district seats. All of those offices involve party primaries.
Judgeships and BOE
The same May 19 main election and potential July 21 runoff also serve as the general election for nonpartisan offices. These include county and circuit judgeships and seats on the Bulloch County Board of Education.
Four of the eight school board seats are due for election. These are the seats in District 1, currently held by Cheri Wagner, District 3, currently held by Dr. Stuart Tedders, District 7, currently held by Heather Mims, and District 8, currently held by Maurice Hill.
The qualifying fee for a Board of Education candidacy is $72.
Qualifying fees are $2,034 for both Probate Court judge and Magistrate Court judge.