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Advance voting is under way

COVINGTON - Voters can go ahead and cast their ballots early for the Nov. 4 General Election.

Secretary of State Karen Handel worked with the Georgia General Assembly to change the law to allow voters to cast ballots 45 days prior to an election, either by mail or in person, without providing a reason.

Early voting was officially scheduled to start Monday, but Newton County Board of Elections Director Donna Morrison said there is no prohibition on starting sooner.

Early voting has been under way in Newton County since Monday, she said.

As of Friday afternoon, 95 ballots had been cast. Early voting will continue from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until Oct. 31 at the office located in the Newton County Administration Building at 1113 Usher St.

"We're hoping they'll take advantage of that so it will reduce the lines and the wait at polling places," on Election Day, Morrison said.

Turnout for the 2004 presidential election was at 78 percent, and Morrison predicted this year's turnout will exceed that.

Voters casting ballots in person must produce one of six valid forms of photo ID: a Georgia's driver's license; any valid state or federal government issued photo ID; a valid U.S. passport; a valid employee ID from any branch, department, agency or entity of the U.S. government, the state of Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of the state; a valid U.S. military photo ID; or a valid tribal photo ID.

Voters can also request a mail-in ballot, which does not require photo identification.

Mail-in ballots must be received no later than 7 p.m. by the county registrar on Election Day. To download a mail-in ballot form, visit www.sos.georgia.gov/ElectionCenter.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.