“It’s one of the longest ballots I have ever seen,” said Lynn Bailey, executive director of Richmond County Board of Elections.
Available in Democratic, Republican and nonpartisan formats, the Democratic version includes three non-binding ballot questions submitted by the Richmond County Democratic Party.
The questions cover whether individuals should be allowed to carry guns into churches, colleges, airports and other places; if Georgia should extend Medicaid to those whose income allows it; and whether marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes, Bailey said.
The questions are in addition to several more straw poll questions to be submitted by the state Democratic party, she said.
On the Republican and nonpartisan ballots, the straw poll questions won’t appear, but voters on all three ballots will be asked to vote on a lengthy, binding referendum on whether the city should reimpose a 1 percent sales tax to raise $194 million for a variety of capital projects and issue a $22.4 million general obligation bond to jump-start several of them.
On all three ballots, voters will decide state-level nonpartisan races, including Georgia Supreme Court justices and Georgia Court of Appeals judges. On the Democratic and Republican ballots, voters will pick party nominees for contested statewide races including governor, attorney general, state school superintendent and Congress. Each party has a contested primary for the 12th Congressional District, which covers Augusta.
After plowing through the federal, partisan and state-level nonpartisan elections, Augusta voters will then select the city’s next mayor, from five candidates seeking the post, and in four commission districts, pick a commissioner.
“It’s typical to see voter fatigue or fall-off, but the thing that’s different about this election is that deep in the ballot, there’s the mayor and commission,” Bailey said.
“It’s going to take voters a little bit longer at the booth.”
There is still time to register to vote in the May 20 election.
The statewide deadline to register is April 21, and Augusta-Richmond County residents who will be 18 or older by then need only fill out an application, available on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website or at the Board of Elections office and drop it in the mail.
If the application is approved, a precinct card will be mailed to the voter with information on polling place location and who represents the district. Georgia requires voters present one of six forms of ID to vote.
Voters hoping to avoid lines at the polls will have ample opportunities to vote early.
Early voting in the May 20 election will be held weekdays starting April 28 at Augusta Municipal Building, 530 Greene Street. Saturday voting will be held May 10 there and at three additional locations – Diamond Lakes Regional Park, Warren Road Community Center and Henry Brigham Community Center. Early voting will continue at all four locations the week of May 12.