Oct. 9 will be the last day to register to vote or to update your name and address on your registration before the busy Nov. 6 general election.
The Bulloch County Board of Elections and Registration office is in the county annex, 113 North Main Street, Stateboro. Online voter registration is available through the state My Voter Page, mvp.sos.ga.gov, where voters can also find information about their assigned voting places.
The state requires that early voting be offered for at least 15 weekdays plus one Saturday, but counties make different provisions for it. In Bulloch County, the one location available for early voting the entire three weeks, Oct. 15-Nov. 2, will be the Elections and Registration office at the annex. Besides being open for advanced voting 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, the annex will be the only location for Saturday voting, Oct. 27, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
However, the local Elections Board is providing two additional early voting sites for shorter periods. The Honey Bowen Building, 1 Max Lockwood Drive at the Fair Road Park, will open for voting for five days, Oct. 29-Nov. 2, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Additionally, an early voting location will open on the Georgia Southern University campus for three days, Oct. 23 through Oct. 25, also 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The location is Room 1042 of the Russell Union, 85 Georgia Ave.
Usually provided just for general elections, the on-campus site has drawn much higher participation in presidential election years than in gubernatorial elections like this one. In 2012 when President Barack Obama won re-election, 1,932 voters turned out at the Russell Union. In November 2016 when President Donald Trump was elected, 2,084 people voted there. But in 2014 with the last governor’s race, only 236 people voted on campus, said Bulloch County Election Supervisor Patricia Lanier Jones.
“It was off in 2014, so we’re going to see how it does in 2018,” Jones said.
Meanwhile, Tuesday, Sept. 18, was the first day for no-excuse absentee paper ballots to be mailed upon request from the election office. These can be mailed out until Friday, Nov. 2, and returned until Election Day, Nov. 6.
Topping the ballot are 10 contested races for statewide offices from governor to public service commissioner. The governor’s race features the Democratic nominee, former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, the Republican nominee, current Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and a Libertarian nominee, Ted Metz.
In the 12th Congressional District, this election will decide the race between Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Rick Allen and Democratic challenger Francys Johnson.
All Bulloch County voters also have choices for Board of Commissioners, since commission Districts 1 and 2 make up the entire county.
In District 1, Democratic incumbent Commissioner Anthony D. Simmons faces Republican challenger Scott Brannen for Seat 1-B.
In District 2, voters will select for two seats. Republican incumbent Walter C. Gibson faces Democratic challenger Adrienne Dobbs for Seat 2-B, while for open Seat 2-D, Republican candidate Timmy Rushing Sr. and Democratic candidate Carlos Brown square off after incumbent Commissioner Robert Rushing did not seek re-election.
Voters countywide will say “yes” or “no” to a six-year continuation of the existing 1 percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. The SPLOST is projected to net about $62 million, which the Bulloch County government and the cities of Statesboro, Brooklet, Portal and Register will share on the basis of population.
Expansion of the county jail, installation of a new radio system for public safety agencies and extension of trash disposal and recycling capacity are proposed as shared projects. The cities have their own projects, ranging from fire truck and police car purchases to water system work and park improvements.
City ‘brunch’ vote
Meanwhile, Statesboro will hold a referendum of city-resident voters on the same dates as the county and state election, but on a separate ballot.
Statesboro’s referendum, called by City Council in August under the so-called Brunch Bill approved by the state Legislature, would let restaurants serve alcoholic beverages an hour and a half earlier on Sunday than currently allowed. Voters will select “yes” or “no” to whether drinks may be sold for on-premises consumption between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Sundays.
In early voting, machines for the city referendum will be available at the same places and times as machines for the state and county elections.
But some Statesboro voters who wait until Election Day, Nov. 6, will have to go to two different places to vote in the one-issue city referendum and on the larger county and state ballot. This is because the city has only two precincts, which are different from but overlap county precincts.
The state ballot also contains five proposed amendments to the Georgia Constitution and two statewide referendums, which will be described in a later story and are shown on sample ballots available at the elections office.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.