With voters deciding on a president of the United States, a sheriff for Bulloch County, a seat in the U.S. Senate, a seat in the House, four amendments to the state Constitution and in specific districts a state representative and two county commissioners, Tuesday promises to be a busy one at the polls.
All 16 of Bulloch County's traditional, precinct voting places will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Although nearly
39 percent of the county's active registered voters voted early or absentee, Election Supervisor Patricia Lanier Jones expects lines to form.
"There's going to be a line because the ballot is longer than what it was in March," Jones said, referring to the March presidential preference primary. "March was the biggest election we've had so far this year, and they only had one thing to vote on, so it was relatively quick."
Any voter who is in line to vote as of 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote, but no more would-be voters will be allowed into polling places after that time, Jones said. She encourages voters to vote earlier in the day if they can, of course.
Instead of thinking that the record-high advanced voting signals a record total turnout, Jones suspects that, this time, more people chose to vote early and absentee than will vote on Election Day. So, she still expects a turnout of around 70 percent, she said Monday.
That would be impressive in comparison with many state and local elections but is far from unprecedented in a presidential general election.
Although the volume of early voting should relieve some pressure on the precincts, the four amendments will slow things down, Jones expects.
"You've got a lot of people who have not read the amendments, so they'll read the amendments when they get here," she said.
To read the amendment questions as they appear on the ballot, as well as see candidates in district-specific sample ballots, voters can log into the state's voting information website, www.mvp.sos.ga.gov, before they go to the polls. Info is also available there to help voters find their precinct voting place.
A sample ballot was published in Sunday's Statesboro Herald. For a reminder, here is a summary of questions and candidates.
Voters decide "Yes" or "No" on the proposed amendments to the Georgia Constitution.
Amendment 1, the most hotly debated, would authorize the creation of a statewide Opportunity School District, or OSD. Schools that fail a state-prescribed measure of success for three or more consecutive years could be assigned to the district, to be headed by a special superintendent appointed by the governor. Individual schools would be assigned alternative leadership, possibly including charter school organizations, as described in the enabling legislation.
Gov. Nathan Deal and other supporters say this is needed to save chronically underperforming schools. Opponents, including statewide teacher and parent groups, describe the legislation as a power grab, taking control away from local school boards.
The ballot question doesn't mention the OSD by name.
Amendment 2 would authorize added fines on keeping a place of prostitution, pandering, sexual exploitation of children and other sex crimes and also allow state fees on adult entertainment establishments. Money from these sources would go to a Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund to pay for care, rehabilitation and social services for exploitation victims.
Amendment 3 would abolish the current Judicial Qualifications Commission and allow the General Assembly to create a new one empowered "to discipline, remove, and cause involuntary retirement of judges" subject to due process and review by the state Supreme Court.
Amendment 4 would dedicate revenue from already-established excise taxes on fireworks to trauma care, firefighter equipment and training and other local public safety purposes. It is a follow-up to the state's legalization of consumer fireworks last year.
Votes counted Tuesday night will decide the race for sheriff between Republican candidate Noel Brown and Democratic candidate Keith Howard. Brown is a sergeant with the Bulloch County Sheriff's Office. Howard, now a Bulloch businessman, is a former state trooper and former Jenkins County chief deputy.
One of them will succeed Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson, retiring at year-end.
Throughout Georgia's 12th Congressional District, voters are deciding between incumbent U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, the Republican from Augusta who founded a construction company, and Democratic challenger Patricia C. McCracken, also from Augusta, who has not campaigned.
For state Legislature, voters in House District 160, which includes southern Bulloch County and northern Bryan County, will decide between Republican incumbent Rep. Jan Tankersley of Brooklet and Democratic challenger James Woodall of Statesboro. Woodall is an Army Reserve sergeant and Georgia Southern University senior who majored in political science. Tankersley, a retiree, served as a Brooklet council member and Bulloch County commissioner before first elected to the state House in 2010.
Voters in Bulloch County Board of Commissioners District 2 are choosing two commissioners. The race for Seat 2A is between Republican candidate Curt Deal, who is a funeral home supply company sales representative, and Democratic candidate Kelphie Lundy, who is Guyton's public safety director but a lifelong Bulloch County resident. The race for Seat 2C is between Democrat and small-business owner Gene Anderson and Republican and recently retired service station owner Jappy Stringer.
All other county commissioner candidates and area members of the Legislature are unopposed at this point, after some races were decided in the May primary.
Statewide and national
But voters throughout Georgia will decide among Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson, Democratic challenger Jim Barksdale and Libertarian challenger Allen Buckley for Isakson's U.S. Senate seat. There is also a recognized write-in, Michelle Gates.
For Georgia Public Service Commission, Republican incumbent Tim Echols faces Libertarian challenger Eric Hoskins.
Atop the ballot, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump appear with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, each paired with their vice presidential running mates. Green Party nominee Jill Stein is one of 17 state-recognized presidential write-in candidates.
All voters need to bring a Georgia driver's license or other valid, government-issued photo identification with them. But Jones reminds voters not to bring visible campaign buttons, signs, shirts and hats, because Georgia law prohibits campaigning within 150 feet of a polling place.
Saturday's story on early voting turnout correctly stated that a new record was set, but the reported total for advanced in-person voting was higher than actually occurred. Jones accidently supplied a chart that included a count of 200 hypothetical voters she added into one column while estimating how many more would have been needed to reach 40 percent turnout.
The correct figure for the three days of early voting on the Georgia Southern campus was 2,084 voters, and the total advanced in-person voting at all locations was 12,577.
Adding the number absentee ballots returned by Monday morning, turnout had reached 38.75 percent.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.