Augusta Commission candidate Michael Thurman drove around with a large campaign sign and knocked on more doors. Commissioner Marion Williams held a sign on the roadside stating “Honk for Marion Williams.”
“If the horns are any indication, we’re all right,” said Williams, confident as he enters Tuesday’s contest against newcomer Ronnie Battle for the Super District 9 seat.
Thurman is challenging District 1 Commissioner Bill Fennoy, along with Denice Traina, in the nonpartisan commission elections.
Tuesday’s general primary and nonpartisan elections have some of the longest ballots Richmond County Elections Director Lynn Bailey said she’s seen in her career. In Richmond County, voters have as many as six nonpartisan choices to make, plus up to four contested Democratic primary contests or six Republican races, depending on the choice of ballot and a voter’s address.
Confusion over which ballot to use continued through three weeks of advance voting and is likely Tuesday, Bailey said.
“Look at the sample ballots,” she urged. “Voters will need to choose one party or the other,” unless they opt for a nonpartisan ballot, she said. But “if they choose nonpartisan, they will not get the nonpartisan races.”
Voters aren’t limited by prior votes on which ballot to select, nor does the decision limit them in the future – with the exception of a likely July 26 runoff, Bailey said.
Five crews encountered few hitches delivering electronic voting machines to Richmond County’s more than 40 polling places. One group led by retired city employee David Taylor couldn’t get into Crawford Avenue Baptist Church when no one from the church was there to meet them.
However, a contracting company – R.W. Allen LLC – had access to the building for a roofing project and let them in. That Allen’s name is on the Republican primary ballot – U.S. Rep. Rick Allen is facing a challenge from retired businessman Eugene Yu – is an unfortunate coincidence, church member C.C. Meadows said.
“I can’t help that,” said Meadows, who said he missed the crew’s arrival because of a doctor’s appointment.
Some south Richmond County voters will encounter one significant change since the March presidential primary. Voters from precincts 506 and 605 no longer cast ballots at the South Augusta Services Center in the Bi-Lo shopping center at 3643 Peach Orchard Road. Instead, they vote at SouthPoint Church at 3358 Peach Orchard Road.
With a three-way race for Richmond County State Court judge, the three-way District 1 commission contest, a four-way Democratic U.S. Senate primary and a three-way state House District 123 GOP primary, the odds are good that voters will be called back for a July 26 runoff, Bailey said.
All the contests require a winner to garner more than 50 percent of the vote. The districts are drawn heavily Democratic or Republican, so partisan primary winners will likely prevail or be unopposed in November.
“There are plenty of races where there could be a runoff – in the Democratic, Republican and nonpartisan ballots,” Bailey said.
Richmond County has replaced the platform on which it presents election results after the polls close. When the new one including its mobile version goes live Tuesday, voters will be pleased, Bailey said.
Despite hopes to get all polling place results in and posted quickly, Bailey wouldn’t promise an early night. Multicounty and statewide races depend on other counties getting their vote totals posted.
“If we don’t run into any problems, we should be finished by 10 p.m. or 10:30 p.m.,” Bailey said.
She predicted turnout possibly as high as 45 percent.
About 6 percent of registered Augusta voters (6,447) cast ballots early during three weeks of advance voting. More than 70 percent cast Democratic ballots. Voters picked a Republican ballot more often only at the Warren Road Community Center location, where 64 percent voted Republican.
In Columbia County, which shares some voters with Richmond County in the House District 123 and state Senate district 23 and 24 Republican primaries, GOP voters dominated in advance voting. Some 3,348 or almost 86 percent of advance in-person ballots cast were Republican.