Voters at the polls Tuesday will have plenty of sway in local contested races because of lower-than-expected early voting numbers.
Shontay Jones, the deputy registrar with the Bulloch County Voter Registrar's Office, said approximately 8 percent of more than 33,000 registered voters in the county took advantage of early and advanced voting periods lasting nearly one month.
Jones said voters cast 2,442 in-person ballots and another 203 mail-in absentee forms for Tuesday’s General Primary Election, which includes contested races for Bulloch County sheriff, Ogeechee Judicial Circuit district attorney and a seat on the Bulloch County Board of Education. It also includes a question asking whether a 1 percent transportation sales tax, commonly known as TSPLOST, should be imposed to pay for road projects in the 12-county Coastal Georgia region, which includes Bulloch County.
“(Early voting) was a little slow,” she said. “There were not as many voters as we anticipated coming out to vote for local races on the ballot.”
“With the local sheriff’s race and the district attorney race, we assumed many people would’ve cast votes in advance,” Jones said.
Of the more than 2,400 people who submitted votes before Election Day, nearly all filed Republican ballots, according to the registrar’s office — the Republican ballot included the sheriff and district attorney races, as well as a four-person battle to represent the Republican Party in a November race for Georgia’s 12th Congressional District seat held by Democrat John Barrow, who is running unopposed on the Democratic ballot.
About 91 percent of voters cast Republican ballots. Just 176 Democratic ballots were submitted.
Election officials are optimistic that a low turnout for early/advanced voting will be offset by a busy Tuesday.
“Hopefully (the low numbers) just mean there will be a bigger turnout on Election Day,” Jones said. “We are hoping a lot of people will take advantage of Tuesday and go out to cast their ballot at the polls.”
For more information about elections, or to view a sample ballot, visit vote.ga.gov. The website provides registration information, directions to polling places, and times and dates of voting periods.
As always, all prospective voters must provide valid identification — a Georgia driver’s license, government ID, passport or tribal identification — to complete a ballot.
For more information, call the Bulloch County Board of Elections and Registration at (912) 764-6502.
Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.