What you need to know heading to the polls
By Whitley Clifton | April 1, 2020 1:50 pm
by HALEI LAMB
COVID-19 has touched every aspect of modern life, including voting. Georgia’s presidential primary election was originally scheduled for March 24, but on March 14, the election was delayed ahead of the pandemic. As both national and local races heat up, here’s what you need to know heading to the polls in a few weeks.
Early voting will now take place April 27 and will last until May 15. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Voters may also cast their votes Saturday, May 9, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Early voting must be done at the Emanuel County Elections Office, located at 105 S. Main Street, Swainsboro.
Election Day will follow early voting three weeks later on May 19. Hours for regular voting are, as usual, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters should report to their usual precincts.
There has been no word as of press time if that tentative schedule has been revised, but should it be changed in the future, details will be provided in a later edition of The Blade.
Voters are not allowed to cross party lines in the primary election. That is not the case in the general election, though. In November, voters are allowed to cross and vote for individual candidates regardless of their parties.
The Secretary of State announced last week that every active voter would receive an absentee ballot application. Should voters sign and return those applications, they will receive a ballot in the mail. This effort was made to accommodate those people who would have voted in person but cannot due to safety measures put in place because of COVID-19.
If you would like to see a copy of what your ballot will look like, visit sos.ga.gov. There, you can enter your name, county, and date of birth to have a sample ballot be made available digitally. The sample ballot hadn’t gone live as of Monday, March 30, but Elections Director Kerry Curry expects it will be up and running by next week.
Generally speaking, a candidate must receive “50 percent plus 1,” a direct quote from Curry, to win. However, the primary election’s purpose is to select a single representative for each party. For example, there are six candidates for the office of sheriff in Emanuel County with three people running on the Republican ticket and three others running on the Democratic ticket. Because both parties have candidates in the running, the primary will, in an ideal situation, whittle six candidates down to just two, one for each party. Those two candidates would then appear on the general election ballot in the fall. However, should no party receive “50 percent plus 1” of the votes in the primary, a runoff election will ensue on July 21. The parties in the runoff will again vie for the majority vote to advance to the general election in November.
Look for a comprehensive piece about absentee voting in next week’s Blade. For questions about voting, contact Curry’s office at 237-3471.