Originally created 11/06/01

Use your vote, candidates say



Even as local campaigns near their culmination, many candidates have hopes of improving voter turnout for the races, which aren't expected to draw more than a quarter of eligible voters to the polls.

"The (Richmond County) Board of Elections said there will be a 25 percent turnout - that means 75 percent of the people will stay home," Eugene Hunt, the campaign manager for District 5 candidate the Rev. Bobby Hankerson, said at a Monday night election rally.

"They're wrong! We're going to have a tremendous turnout," he boomed into a hand-held microphone, urging support for the Rev. Hankerson.

The rally at Antioch Baptist Church drew about 40 people, including District 1 incumbent Lee Beard and Civil Court marshal candidate John Gray; countless more heard the program broadcast on a local AM radio station.

The rally was just one of many efforts undertaken by area candidates to inspire voters the day before the elections for five Augusta Commission seats - Districts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 - and the civil court marshal's post. Voters also will be asked to approve a 1-cent local option sales tax, which would fund about $300 million in school improvement projects.

The Richmond County Board of Elections has distributed fewer than 400 machines for Election Day.

"For a presidential election we send out every (machine) we have," which is about 600, said Travis Doss, the assistant director for the elections board.

As the machines were delivered to the city's more than 70 precincts, candidates continued their last-minute campaigning and made the final preparations for what they hope will be victory parties.

"We're still making contact with people, and trying to encourage them to vote," Mr. Beard of District 1 said. "We're trying to gather up all the loose ends, that type of thing."

Reach Heidi Coryell Williams at (706) 823-3215.