Early voting gets underway

COVINGTON -- Advanced voting for the General Primary and Non-Partisan July 31 Election gets underway Monday.

Voters will have to select a party for the General Primary, but, "For the November General Election, all races will be on one ballot and voters are free to vote for the candidate of their choosing, regardless of party," said Cynthia Welch, supervisor of elections in Rockdale County.

Welch said her office is predicting a turnout of 30 percent for the General Primary, or approximately 14,450 of 48,213 active voters. Welch estimated at least 15 percent of those will be early voters.

In Rockdale County, early in-person voting will begin at 8 a.m. Monday and end Friday, July 27. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. July 9-July 20 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, July 21. Extended early voting hours, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., will be offered July 25-27. Voting takes place at the Rockdale County Board of Elections and Registration office located at 1400 Parker Road, Lobby C, in Conyers.

A sample ballot for the July 31 election can be found under the Board of Elections Department on the Rockdale County website at www.rockdalecounty.org.

In Newton County, voters can cast their ballots in the training room across from the Board of Elections office, located in the Newton County Administration Building at 1113 Usher Street. Hours for advanced voting are between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 21.

Advance voting will also be available at the Porter Memorial Library, located at 6191 Ga. Highway 212, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., July 23 - July 27.

"If the voter votes in a primary and there is a runoff, the voter has to vote in the same party runoff, if there is a runoff held for that party," said Newton Board of Elections Director Donna Morrison. "The voter cannot vote in a particular primary and switch to the other party (in the runoff), even if the primary they voted in does not have a runoff."

Also, the Nonpartisan General Election will be held in conjunction with the primary. The nonpartisan candidates will appear on both party primary ballots, Morrison said.

A Special Election for voters to decide whether to approve a 1 percent transportation sales tax, or T-SPLOST, will be held and included on all ballots.

"One more thing to remind voters about is if they voted in the past during the advance voting period at the election office and plan to vote in the primary or future elections at their voting precinct ,they will vote on Election Day at their voting precinct not the Board of Elections office," Morrison said.

Voters were mailed a new voter precinct card recently due to new district boundary lines being redrawn this year, Morrison said. The new cards mailed to voters are yellow and provided them with their district and voter registration information. Voters do not have to bring their voter card with them to vote; it is provided to them for informational purposes only.

Voters can obtain information regarding the status of their voter registration, polling place location and district representatives by visiting the Secretary of State's website at http://mvp.sos.state.ga.us.

Photo identification is required during early voting and on election day. One of the following six forms of identification is acceptable:

-- a Georgia driver's license, even if expired or suspended

-- valid state or federal government photo ID

-- valid U.S. passport with photo

-- valid government employee photo ID (city, county state or U.S. government

-- valid U.S. military photo I.D.

-- tribal photo ID

Voters who do not have one of these IDs can obtain a voter identification card from their local board of elections or may vote a provisional ballot on election day and provide a copy of one of the required photo identifications to the Board of Registrar by the Friday after the election.

Those wishing to vote absentee by mail can download a form from the Secretary of State's web site at http://sos.georgia.gov/elections/voterinformation/absentee/html or mail or fax a written request for an absentee ballot to their local board of elections office.

The request must include name and address, as registered; date of birth; name of election for which they are requesting a ballot; address ballot is to be mailed to if different from the one on file; daytime phone number and email address; the party the voter wishes to vote; and the voter's signature. If the request is made by a relative, the relative must sign the request and specify the relationship to the voter.

Written requests and absentee ballots can be mailed to the Rockdale County Board of Elections and Voter Registration at 1400 Park Road, Lobby C, Conyers, GA 30094, or faxed to 770-785-6932.For more information, contact the Rockdale Board of Elections at 770-278-7333.

In Newton, requests and absentee ballots can be mailed to 1113 Usher Street, Suite 103, P.O. Box 1274, Covington, GA 30015, faxed to 770-784-2057 or emailed to absentee@co.newton.ga.us. For more information, call 770-784-2055.