Some 500 Bartow County residents cast their ballots Monday, opting to vote early for the Nov. 6 general election. At times Monday, the lobby at 105 N. Bartow St. overflowed with voters waiting outside for their chance to vote for president of the United States of America as well as a few locally contested races and two proposed amendments to the state constitution.
“It used to be early voting, then advanced voting, they’ve changed the name over the years, but the same basic idea — voting absentee in person before the election. It was a longer period [in 2008]. It was six weeks rather than three, but we’ve now added a Saturday,” said Bartow County Election Supervisor Joseph Kirk. “In 2008, we had more people vote absentee in person than on election day. It seems like the trend is continuing. I’m not sure if we will hit the same numbers with a shortened time frame, but we definitely had a lot of people interested in voting today. Hitting 500 on the first day — that’s significant.”
Advance voting will continue at the elections office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from now until Nov. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bartow County voters can vote at this location for the general election ballot as well as the special election ballots for the cities of Taylorsville and Emerson.
General election ballots only will also be available at the Cartersville Civic Center, 435 W. Main St., from Monday, Oct. 29, to Friday, Nov. 2, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The cities of Taylorsville and Emerson have contracted with the Bartow County Board of Elections and Voter Registration for special elections. The city of Taylorsville will be voting to fill the vacant office of mayor. Because the city is partially in Polk County, both Polk and Bartow County residents living within the Taylorsville city limits qualify to receive a ballot from Bartow County for the Taylorsville special election in addition to the general election ballot. Taylorsville residents can vote at the Bartow County Board of Elections Office in advance or at Taylorsville City Hall on election day.
The city of Emerson special election will be conducted separate from the general election and will ask voters to weigh in on five questions, three regarding Freeport taxation and two regarding the sale of alcohol. To vote in the Emerson special election, residents can vote at the elections office during advance voting or at Emerson City Hall during advance voting beginning Oct. 29. Residents may also vote on these issues at Emerson City Hall on election day.
The Nov. 6 general election will of course decide between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusets, but the two frontrunners are joined on the ballot by Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico. The vote also will decide locally, the race for U.S. Congress District 11, chief magistrate, and depending on residence, State House District 15 and Bartow County Board of Education District 4. Statewide races on the general election ballot will include two races for public service commissioner.
Countywide, offices will be on the ballot for Republican candidates running unopposed in the general election, including county commissioner and sheriff.
In addition to contested and uncontested races, there are two constitutional amendments going before Georgia voters this year. The first proposed amendment is the controversial question of whether or not to allow for state or local approval of charter schools. The second amendment to be proposed on the general election ballot asks voters to grant the Georgia General Assembly authorization to enter multi-year rental agreements as a costs-saving measure.
Information for both issues are available at the elections office. Kirk urges voters to be sure of their choices before entering the voting booth. Elections officials are not allowed to assist on political issues.
“Figure out how you want to vote on these ahead of time,” Kirk said, “because, if you get confused at the booth, there’s no one available at the polling place to help.”
Sample ballots are available from the Bartow County Board of Elections Office, 105 N. Bartow St., Cartersville, or online form the Georgia Secretary of State at mvp.sos.state.ga.us.
For more details and further coverage of these races and issues see future issues of The Daily Tribune News.