Early voting in commission runoff starts Monday

Early voting in the Dec. 4 runoff between Matt Aitken and Bill Fennoy for the District 1 Augusta Commission seat starts Monday.

From 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday eligible District 1 voters can cast ballots at the Richmond County Board of Elections office in the Augusta Municipal Building, 530 Greene St.

After a break for the Thanksgiving holiday, early voting will resume the week of Nov. 26-30 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the board of elections office.

The elections board also hopes to have absentee ballots available Monday and is already accepting applications for them, Executive Director Lynn Bailey said.

Anyone who resides in District 1 and was eligible at the time of the general election Nov. 6 can vote in the runoff.

Bailey said she expects some confusion among voters whose commission district changed when lines were redrawn earlier this year to reflect 2010 census data.

Several areas – including Augusta’s Apple Valley subdivision, Cherry Tree Crossing, sections of Summerville and parts of District 8 in south Augusta – were added into District 1.

The changes add polling locations at W.T. Johnson Community Center, Bernie Ward Community Center and Southside Baptist Church on Election Day, Dec. 4.

In all, 14 polling places will be open Election Day for the runoff, Bailey said.

Aitken got 40 percent of votes to Fennoy’s 30 percent in the general election. To avoid a runoff, one candidate must win more than 50 percent of the vote.

Aitken defeated Fennoy in a similar runoff for the seat in 2009.

Runoff elections tend to “see a sharp decline in participation,” Bailey said, although she hesitated to predict voter turnout in the District 1 voting until early voting begins.

Nearly 50 percent of registered voters cast early ballots in the Nov. 6 general election.

“After early voting starts next week, we’ll have a better gauge of interest,” she said.

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