Originally created 10/06/04

Elections Office provides voting options



Paper cuts and broken nails are all part of a day's work for Deborah Freeman.

Inside a first-floor room in the municipal building on Greene Street, Ms. Freeman, a seasonal employee at the Richmond County Board of Elections office, stamped, labeled and sealed absentee ballot after absentee ballot, each to be sent out in Tuesday's mail.

"It's OK, though," Ms. Freeman said, her manicured hands never still. "It has to be done."

The office has issued 2,500 absentee ballots to date, but voting absentee is just one of several ways registered voters can take part in the upcoming election, said Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey.

Voters also have the option of participating in advance voting if it is inconvenient for them to visit the polls Nov. 2, Ms. Bailey said.

Advance voting has been held twice before at the Board of Elections office and has attracted high turnouts both times. That has prompted the office to open two additional locations this election for advance voting, Ms. Bailey said.

Monday was the last day for Georgia voters to register.

As of Tuesday, 84,500 people had registered to vote, but that number is expected to increase as the office finishes counting applications, Ms. Bailey said.

The number of absentee ballots issued to date is on par with the past presidential election, if not a little heavier, because of the high volume of military personnel in the area, she said.

In fact, 23 percent, or 579, of the issued absentee ballots are to military personnel, she said.

In order to vote by absentee ballot, voters must send a letter or application to the Board of Elections office including the reason why they will not be able to vote in their precinct, the election date they are requesting and several other requirements, she said.

Voters 75 or older are automatically entitled to vote by absentee ballot, and military service and physical disabilities are also valid reasons. People also can vote absentee because they can't make it to their polling station.

The office will mail absentee ballots through Oct. 29 and will accept applications if they are postmarked the same day.

The deadline for turning in absentee ballots in person to the Board of Elections office is Nov. 1, she said.

Advance voting is similar to absentee voting, except voters do not have to meet the same requirements, according to Ms. Bailey.

Columbia County Bureau Chief Preston Sparks contributed to this article.

Reach Kate Lewis at (706) 823-3215 or kate.lewis@augustachronicle.com.

IN ADVANCE

Advance voting will be Oct. 25-29, Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., at three locations: the Board of Elections' downtown office, the Warren Road Community Center on Warren Road and the Henry H. Brigham Community Center on Golden Camp Road.

For more information on absentee or advance voting, contact the Richmond County Board of Elections at 821-2340; visit 530 Greene Street, Room 104; or log on to www.augustaga.gov.