Early voting period is under way
Registered voters may cast ballots until Oct. 30

COVINGTON - Early voting for the Covington Municipal Election is taking place at the Newton County Board of Elections Office through Oct. 30.

The Municipal Election takes place Nov. 3, but a recent state law mandates that voters be allowed to cast their ballots by mail or in person at least 21 days prior to a municipal election without an excuse.

The Board of Elections is allowing voters to cast their ballots during regular business hours, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The office is located in the Newton County Administration Building at 1113 Usher St.

As of Tuesday afternoon, only two ballots had been cast, said Board of Elections Director Donna Morrison. Incumbent Hawnethia Williams, Post 2, West Ward, is the only candidate facing opposition, from former City Councilman Charles Wilborn.

There is no early voting the Monday before the election.

In Newborn, early voting will get under way Tuesday, according to Town Clerk Lisa Rowe. Hours are from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

Oxford City Clerk Carol Poole said she did not yet know when early voting will begin there, as she has yet to get a final list of electors from the Board of Elections.

When contacted Friday, several municipal clerks said they were not aware that early voting must take place 21 days prior to the election. While the majority had cleared up the confusion by Tuesday, Porterdale clerk Lynn Rodriguez said the city would not have early voting until the week prior to the election.

A spokesman for the secretary of state's office said he would be contacting local municipalities to make sure they are aware of the state law. Anyone who does not comply with state law will be brought before the State Elections Board, he said.

Mansfield will not have an election this year, as all candidates are running unopposed.

Absentee ballots are also available. Absentee ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day. No absentee ballots are issued the day before or the day of an election.

Municipal voters may request an absentee ballot from their absentee ballot clerk's office until the close of business on Oct. 30. Absentee ballots must be returned to the municipal absentee ballot clerk by the close of polls on Election Day.

Photo identification is not required when voting by mail; however, voters must complete and sign the oath on the outer envelope containing the voted absentee ballot. To download an absentee ballot request form, please visit: www.sos.ga.gov/elections.

Voters will be required to show one of the following six forms of photo ID when voting in person:

· A Georgia driver's license, even if expired;

· Any valid state or federal government issued photo ID, including a free voter ID card issued by your county registrar or Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS);

· Valid U.S. passport;

· Valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. Government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority, or other entity of this state;

· Valid U.S. military photo ID; or

· Valid tribal photo ID.

If a voter does not have one of these forms of photo identification, he or she may obtain a free voter ID card at the county registrars' office or a Georgia Department of Driver Services Service Center. Anyone with additional questions about Georgia's photo ID requirement can visit www.GAPhotoID.com or call 877-725-9797.

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