Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced that qualifying opened Monday for a June 9 special election to fill the state Senate seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Jack Hill.
Qualifying continues in Atlanta only on Tuesday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Wednesday, April 15, beginning at 9 a.m. but ending that day at 1 p.m.,
Hill, from Reidsville, represented District 4 in the state Senate for almost 30 years before his sudden passing April 6 at age 75. He would have appeared as the only candidate for his seat in what was originally to have been the May 19 Republican primary. He would have faced no Democratic opposition, either.
Raffensperger last Thursday postponed the entire May 19 election – including the Democratic and Republican primaries and nonpartisan general election – to June 9 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That announcement followed by one day Gov. Brian Kemp’s extension of his state of emergency declaration to May 13 and his shelter-in-place order to April 30, Raffensperger’s call of the District 4 special election appeared on the Secretary of State’s Office website as posted Monday, April 13, and in effect stated that qualifying would begin at 9 a.m. the same day.
Three candidates had qualified, all as Republicans, by Monday afternoon. They are Dr. Scott Bohlke, a Brooklet physician, Billy Hickman, a Statesboro certified public accountant, and Kathy Palmer, a Swainsboro attorney.
(The Statesboro Herald will publish full profiles of each candidate after qualifying ends.)
To qualify in Atlanta
The notice stated that candidate qualifying will be held in the Elections Division of the Office of the Secretary of State, 2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, West Tower Suite 802, Atlanta, and that the qualifying fee is $400. District 4 encompasses Bulloch, Candler, Evans and Effingham counties and parts of Emanuel and Tattnall counties.
To qualify for Georgia Senate seats, candidates must be at least 25 years old, citizens of the state of Georgia for at least two years, residents of their district for at least one year immediately preceding election and citizens of the United States, according to the “Facts about the Georgia Senate” page on the Senate website.
Raffensperger’s announcement stated that if a runoff is needed, it will be held Aug. 11, which is the same date as for any other runoffs from the June 9 election.
The announcement made no reference to the November general election.
A Secretary of State’s Office staff member, Monday afternoon, said that candidates would be listed by party for the special election but will all appear on the same ballot, so that a winning candidate emerges either June 9 or from the Aug. 11 runoff. However, this election will be only for a senator to serve the remainder of this year, and the District 4 Senate seat will appear again on Nov. 3 general election ballots for a regular two-year term, the staff member said.
To serve this summer
The senator elected in the special election might then serve in the current-year’s Georgia General Assembly session, which was suspended because of the pandemic, if the session is reconvened this summer as expected.
Asked if county elections offices have any role in the special election process other than in voter registration, Bulloch County Election Supervisor Pat Lanier Jones replied by email Monday morning that she had received no information on the special election.
The voter registration deadline for the June 9 special
election is Monday, May 11.