Originally created 07/15/06

Few cast ballots in advance



Carolyn Williams said she wanted to make sure that neither long lines nor her own memory would get in the way of doing her civic duty, so she voted early.

"I could always forget," she said.

Ms. Williams was one of the last to cast a vote at the Richmond County Board of Elections as early voting for Tuesday's primary election closed Friday evening.

In Richmond County, 2,244 voters cast their ballots this week, which the county's top election official said represents about 10 percent of the estimated 20,000 voters in Tuesday's primary election.

Columbia County election officials also are forecasting a low turnout based on the 1,032 early votes cast.

Both counties' election officials are expecting a 20-25 percent turnout, which is in line with the Georgia Secretary of State Office's projection of 22 percent statewide.

Early voting turnout was trending lower than in the 2004 election.

But state and county election officials didn't expect the tallies to be as large this time because the presidential race drove voter interest higher two years ago.

"It all depends on the candidates," said Lynn Bailey, the executive director of the Richmond County Board of Elections.

"While we do have some good races that are interesting, they are mostly statewide that are contested."

Other than state legislative races, no local races will appear on Richmond County ballots.

In Columbia County, Republican voters will cast ballots for county commission chairman. The only other contested race in the county is a special election to fill the recently vacated Grovetown City Council seat.

Until a week ago, a state's new law was in place that would have required voters to show one of six forms of government-issued photo ID in order to cast a ballot. But then a state judge suspended the requirement for the primary elections. This week, a federal judge also overturned the law for the primaries and the general election in November.

Voters who show up Tuesday will still be allowed to use one of 17 kinds of ID the state recognizes. Those without and ID must sign a statement swearing they are who they say they are.

Leading up to the court ruling, Richmond County election officials had issued 80 photo IDs to voters who said they had no other form of valid identification, Ms. Bailey said.

Since the ruling, she said, the number of calls about the voting identification rules have tapered off.

"I think at this point, those types of questions have calmed down." she said. "Most people seem to be aware that we're no longer operating under (the) photo ID (law)."

Morris News Service contributed to this article.

Reach Justin Boron at (706) 823-3215 or justin.boron@augustachronicle.com.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 868-1222 ext. 115, or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

EARLY VOTING TALLY


Richmond County


Main Office: 800


Brigham Center: 935


Warren Road: 509




Columbia County


Columbia County Library: 710


Patriots Park: 194


Savannah Rapids Pavilion: 128

Source: Richmond County and Columbia County Boards of Elections


PRIMARY ELECTION VOTING


WHEN TO VOTE: 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Tuesday


WHERE TO VOTE: If you are unsure of your polling location, visit www.augustaga.gov for Richmond County locations or www.columbiacountyga.gov for Columbia County locations.


COMING SUNDAY: Your guide to where the candidates stand on the issues.