Election day will fall this year on Tuesday, March 6, as 10 states choose the Republican candidate for the presidency. Those choosing to forgo lines at their local polling place still may take advantage of advance voting open through Friday.
Early voting has been open for nearly three weeks beginning on Feb. 13 but has drawn a small number of voters. Numbers available Wednesday counted 560 ballots cast at the Bartow County Elections Office, 105 N. Bartow St., and only 45 ballots at the Cartersville Civic Center, 435 W. Main St. Both locations are open today and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"It's been slow ... slower than I thought it would be," said Bartow County Elections Supervisor Joseph Kirk. "I haven't had a line yet, not a true line. You may have to wait a minute for someone to get their ID checked before you, but we're talking two or three minutes.
"What I'm scared of is 2008 where not a whole lot of people voted early or advanced and we got slammed on election day and ended up having lines on election day when a lot of those folks could have gotten taken care of earlier a lot easier."
Mail-in ballots, too, have been slim but closer to what was expected. About 280 ballots were issued through the mail with about half of those being returned so far. This process, utilized by overseas servicemen and women among others, has recently been simplified by making ballots available online where voters can have the completed forms notarized and mailed in.
With 10 states holding primary elections and caucuses on March 6, Georgia will be coveted ground as the state carries more delegates than any other up for grabs on Super Tuesday. Nine names remain on the Republican presidential preference primary ballot for Georgia, although many have dropped out of the race since qualifying. President Barack Obama is the only name on the Democratic ticket opposite Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Buddy Roemer, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum filling out the Republican slate.
From that field, only a few remain but Kirk has already seen many undecided voters and expects that to remain true on election day. For those voters, a common answer would be to stay away from the polls, but Kirk suggests that voting for no one may be a better way of voicing one's opinion while exercising the right to vote.
"Folks often don't agree with any of the candidates or any of the choices on the ballot and they end up as a result not voting at all. Because if they don't agree with any of them, they're not going to vote for them," Kirk said. "That just gives us a low turnout. You don't have to vote for anything to vote. You can cast a blank ballot, which I've done multiple times in the past. To me, it's just a better form of dissent."
Likewise, Kirk reminds voters to be aware that blank votes do count as a vote. Issues are typically more likely to occur in primary elections where voters often request the wrong party ballot. If there is something wrong with the ballot issued, notify an election official before submitting a vote, once a vote or blank vote is cast it cannot be revoked.
For more information, call 770-387-5098.