Qualifying voters who want to cast an absentee ballot in the June 21 referendum on the city's general obligation bonds totaling $160 million and the redevelopment powers act may do so at the Richmond County Board of Elections beginning next week.
"We anticipate by the middle of next week, we will have in-office voting set up for people who want to come in and vote early," said Lynn Bailey, the elections board executive director.
However, voters must have a valid reason for voting absentee, such as being out of town on June 21, being more than 75 years old or being disabled. But if they qualify, there is no reason to wait, Mrs. Bailey said.
"Do yourself a favor, come down early, don't wait until that last week when the crowds are here (for early voting) and the lines are so long," she said.
Early voting is different from casting an absentee ballot. Early voting is held the week before the election and any eligible voter may cast a ballot.
Mrs. Bailey recommends voters call her office at 821-2340 before coming to cast an absentee ballot next week.
Voters will be asked to approve or reject a $100 million general obligation bond that would help pay for a new judicial center and jail space and for relocating the sheriff's office from the law enforcement center on Walton Way.
They also will be asked to vote for or against a $60 million bond to pay for a sports arena at the Regency Mall site. If approved, the bonds would add $112 a year to the tax bill on a $100,000 house in Richmond County.
The redevelopment powers act authorizes local jurisdictions to offer incentives for redevelopment by establishing certain districts. Voters must first authorize the jurisdiction's governing board, in this case, the Augusta Commission, to establish the districts through the referendum.
The elections board office expects to have absentee ballots ready to mail out by May 20, Mrs. Bailey said.
The June 21 referendum will be held under the same laws that existed in November because the U.S. Justice Department has not yet approved Georgia's new voting law, so the same types of voter identification accepted last year may be used, she said.
"A birth certificate, Social Security card, work ID, bank statement are all acceptable forms of ID," she said.
The elections board will mail absentee ballots to voters with valid reasons for voting absentee. Those who want to receive an absentee ballot by mail should write or fax the elections board with their requests.
The request must have the voter's name and address, the reason he or she is qualified to vote absentee, the name of the election, which in this case would be the June 21st election, and the voter's signature, which will be checked against his or her voter registration card.
"Once we deem that they are eligible, we will mail the ballot right out to them," Mrs. Bailey said.
To view the sample ballot via the Internet, beginning Friday, go to www.augustaga.gov, under City Departments, click on Board of Elections and then Sample Ballot.
Turnout for the June 21 election is not expected to be great, Mrs. Bailey said.
"I expect we will see a little better turnout than we would for other special elections of this type because of the interest," she said.
Every polling place will be open. And every voter will have the same ballot with the three questions on it.
There is one polling place change. Voters who formerly voted at Faith Outreach Christian Life Center on Willis Foreman Road will now vote at Diamond Lakes Park on Windsor Spring Road.
Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or email@example.com.
REDEVELOPMENT POWERS LAW REFERENDUM
(VOTE FOR ONE)*
Shall the Act be approved which authorizes Augusta-Richmond County to exercise redevelopment powers under the "Redevelopment Powers Law," as it may be amended from time to time?
MULTIPURPOSE SPORTS/ENTERTAINMENT COMPLEX
GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS
(VOTE FOR ONE)
Shall General Obligation Bonds in the amount of $60,000,000 be issued by Augusta, Georgia for the purpose of providing funds to pay or to be applied toward the cost of acquiring, constructing and equipping a multipurpose sports and entertainment arena to be located on all or a portion of the property formerly known as the Regency Mall, Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia, acquiring the necessary property or rights in property therefor, both real and personal, and to pay expenses necessary to accomplish the foregoing?
PUBLIC SAFETY GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS
(VOTE FOR ONE)
Shall General Obligation Bonds in the amount of $100,000,000 be issued by Augusta, Georgia for the purpose of providing funds to pay or to be applied toward the cost of acquiring, constructing and equipping additional public safety buildings and facilities, including but not limited to judicial facilities, sheriff's offices and jail facilities, renovating, repairing, demolishing, adding to and improving the existing public safety facilities of the County, acquiring apparatus, furnishings, equipment and fixtures useful or desirable in connection therewith and parking areas and facilities therefor, acquiring the necessary property or rights in property therefor, both real and personal, and to pay expenses necessary to accomplish the foregoing?
*Vote for one means to select either yes or no on each question.