July 31 is a primary election, so voters have to pick a party. You may select from three choices, the Democratic, Republican or nonpartisan ballots. For example, by selecting the Democratic ballot you could vote for one of four sheriff’s candidates, but you would not be able to vote for any Republican candidates for sheriff or in any other Republican races. Selecting the Republican ballot, you could vote for one of two sheriff’s candidates, but you would not be able to vote for any Democratic candidates in other races. In both of those cases you could still vote for nonpartisan candidates, such as those running for superior court judge positions. However, if you should choose the nonpartisan ballot, you would not be allowed to vote in any partisan races, including the one for sheriff.
A new sheriff will not be elected on Tuesday. The primary election decides which two candidates – one Democrat and one Republican – will be on the ballot for the general election in November. Whoever wins the general election will be the next sheriff of Richmond County and will take office in January.
There could be a runoff. Because there are four Democratic candidates, it might be difficult for one candidate to get more than 50 percent of the vote, which is required to win outright. If that doesn’t occur, the top two candidates will meet again in a runoff election to be held Aug. 21. The winner of a runoff will face the Republican primary winner in November.
The sheriff represents all of Richmond County, not just Augusta. This means voters who live in the municipalities of Hephzibah and Blythe also have a say in who is elected sheriff. The sheriff serves a four-year term. Whoever is elected will serve until the end of 2016. His starting salary will be $110,000 per year.