Signs are pointing to low turnout for primaries

Though there are many choices to be made, especially among Republican contenders for statewide office, few voters have taken advantage of early and advance balloting for Tuesday's Georgia General Primary.


Richmond County Elections Director Lynn Bailey said she expected, at best, 25 percent to cast ballots in the primary, based on turnout so far for early and advance primary voting and a lack of local candidates on the ballot.

There is one local name -- Patricia McCracken, an Augustan who is seeking the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor -- on that party's primary ballot, but she's the only one and has done little campaigning.

Bailey said she expects the usual voter dismay Tuesday at having to choose either a Democratic or a Republican primary ballot.

"You have to make the choice; you can't have it both ways," she said.

In Democratic-leaning Richmond County, Bailey expects greater voter participation in that party's primary.

New for the primary is the posting of voter wait time estimates at each of the county's nearly 70 polling places, Bailey said.

A primary runoff election is highly likely, particularly in some of the Republican races, and voters must stay with the same party primary ballot for the runoff Aug. 10.

Voters won't decide until Nov. 2 among the numerous contenders for Augusta mayor, five Augusta Commission seats and five Richmond County school board posts. The nonpartisan races also are likely to necessitate a runoff Nov. 30.

Voters have had since June 7 to vote early in the general primary in the elections office, although few have done so. Advance voting, which began Monday and ends Friday, also has been slow at its three locations: the board of elections office, Henry Brigham Community Center and Warren Road Recreation Center.

Runoffs are extremely likely in the Republican primary, including a four-way race in the 12th Congressional District, now represented by Democrat John Barrow. The district represents an area from south Augusta to Savannah.

The Republican candidates -- Michael Horner, Raymond McKinney, Jeanne Seaver and Carl Smith -- haven't spent much time campaigning in Democratic-leaning south Richmond, according to District 10 Republican Chairman Dave Barbee of Augusta.

"They'll probably have maybe 20,000 (primary) votes, but only 3,500 out of Richmond County," Barbee said.

The winner of the primary or primary runoff will go against either Barrow or Democratic challenger Regina Thomas in November.

A primary runoff also is likely in several statewide races with multiple Republican contenders, including a seven-way fight for the nomination for governor.

"It's not going to be like South Carolina, where someone (Nikki Haley) gets 49.5 percent in the primary, either," Barbee said.

Barbee said he expected John Oxendine to be the top vote-getter in the primary, but not with 50 percent of votes.

"Either Karen Handel, Nathan Deal or Eric Johnson will oppose him in the runoff," Barbee said.

Runoffs also are likely in the Republican attorney general primary, which has three contenders. and the nine-way race for the Republican nomination for commissioner of insurance, he said.

Barbee said he expected 20 percent at best to participate in the primary, noting that "if our commission seats and our mayor's race were partisan, you'd have a bigger turnout."

He expected Republican participation to top Democratic participation this year, a reversal of previous years and "a reflection of what's happening in Washington."

What voters need to know

Advance voting continues from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. today and Friday at three locations:

- Board of Elections office, 530 Greene St., Room 104

- Henry Brigham Center, 2463 Golden Camp Road

- Warren Road Recreation Center, 300 Warren Road

Voters need one of six forms of photo identification to cast a ballot. No reason is required for voting early.

On Election Day, polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Anyone in line by 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

Voters must show one of these forms of photo identification:

- A Georgia driver's license, even if expired; - Any state or federal government-issued photo ID; - Employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency or entity of the U.S. government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of the state; - U.S. passport ID; - U.S. military photo ID; - Tribal photo ID

If you are unsure of your polling place, check your precinct card. If you don't have a precinct card, call the Board of Elections office at (706) 821-2340 or the Georgia Secretary of State Office at (888) 265-1115, or visit the secretary of state's poll locator at



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