Area voter registration numbers are surging ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election.
Columbia County has 99,214 registered voters as of Sept. 19, while Richmond County has 98,484, according to elections officials in both counties.
Jenna Reynolds, registration coordinator in Columbia County, said the voter rolls have grown by about 1,000 voters per month since July, and nearly 700 applications came in over the weekend.
U.S. Census Bureau estimates put Columbia County’s population at 144,052 last year, with 106,599 (74 percent) of voting age. If accurate, 93 percent of voting-age adults are now registered in the GOP-leaning county.
Richmond County’s population, estimated at 201,793 last year, has a larger percentage of voting age, 76 percent, but only 64 percent are registered to vote.
Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey said the number of registered voters could swell by several thousand in the next two weeks.
“We are getting many, many completed applications in every day from the Secretary of State’s Office,” she said. “You can expect by November to see well over 100,000.”
Bailey said the upswing typically precedes presidential elections through voter registration drives.
“We are getting some of the pre-completed forms,” she said. “We are also getting a lot of walk-in business.”
The number might not hit the mark set by the last two presidential elections in heavily Democratic Richmond County. In 2012, 109,000 people were registered, and in 2008, about 106,000 were signed up.
Prospective voters have only two weeks to register before the Oct. 11 deadline, Bailey said.
Online registration options compare a voter’s application with Georgia Department of Driver Services information, she said. Those without a driver’s license must print, sign and mail the application.
Applications also are compared with Department of Corrections records to ensure prospective voters aren’t serving time.
The local elections office sends letters out to attempt to clarify applications deemed incomplete or invalid, Bailey said.
In addition to the presidential election, voters have several choices to make Nov. 8, including whether to amend the state constitution to implement Gov. Nathan Deal’s “Opportunity School District” program, decisions in a U.S. Senate contest and several state races.
Richmond County voters have school board races and a school sales tax referendum to decide, and Columbia County voters will decide a referendum on a general obligation bond.