Voting trends and tips for Georgia and Sumter County
Published 1:25 pm Thursday, October 20, 2022
Tracy K. Hall
Early voting Georgia-wide has been breaking records for the first two days. Statewide, as compared to even the presidential election of 2020, voters accessing and getting to cast their ballot has increased. On Tuesday, October 18, Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, reports, “Tuesday’s total marks a 75.3% increase from day two of 2018 midterm early voting, and an astounding 3.3% increase over the second day of Early Voting in the 2020 Presidential Election.” The Secretary of State and the State Elections Board successfully defended a case filed weeks after Brain Kemp’s 2018 victory for governor in which Stacey Abrams’ “Fair Fight Action” organization along with additional plaintiffs, challenged the legality of Georgia’s election laws, citing voter suppression as an outcome of the laws and how Georgia elections were conducted. US District Judge, Steve Jones wrote a 288-page reasoning as to why he denied all of the claims against the state. He went on record as saying, “Although Georgia’s election system is not perfect, the challenged practices violate neither the constitution nor the VRA (Voting Rights Act).”
As for Sumter County, as of Wednesday night on 10.19.22, 973 votes in total have been cast. While there are both state and federal positions on the ballot to include US House, US Senate, and governor, there are several local, down ballot elections in which we get to choose both state representation and local representation.
For some or most in our area, we will be choosing between Chris West (R) and Samford Bishop (D) for US House representation. For Georgia State House, Districts 150 and 151 are on the ballot. District 150 is not a contended race; however, District 151 will be deciding between incumbent Mike Cheokas (R) and Joyce Barlow (D). State Senate position for District 12 is an uncontended race. In addition to these candidates, several valid write-in candidates have been approved. The Sumter County Board of Commissioners also will elect two positions. Mark Waddell, of District 2 is running uncontended. In District 4, David Baldwin (R) and Mathis Wright (D) are campaigning for the position.
Four positions for Sumter County Board of Education are on the ballot. District 7 has Sylvia Roland running unopposed. Edward Jackson will also be running unopposed for the District 3 position. Voters in Districts 1 and 5 will be deciding between two candidates. In District 1, Abbis Bivins and Aisha Evans are on the ballot. In District 5, Carolyn Hamilton and Matt Berry will be competing for the position.
Please note, if there is an office, candidate or a question you feel you need education on, please do your research prior to going to the polls. Political affiliations and incumbent status will be indicated on the ballot. Poll workers are allowed to offer limited technical assistance should you need help casting your vote, they in no way are allowed to address questions regarding an issue, an office or a candidate. Please know, there is no law or requirement which mandates you have to respond to everything on the ballot. You may vote only on the items you wish to be heard. The voting machine may indicate you did not vote on certain items, that is merely a courtesy.
Should you suspect any violation in election laws, you have several options to report your suspicions. You can report at securevotega.com or sos.ga.gov. online. By phone you may contact the Voter Fraud Hotline at 877.725.9797. Additionally, some or most of the Sumter County Board of Elections members are on hand to assist such an issue arise. Randy Howard, the elections supervisor is also at hand. Please let a poll worker know if you need to bring something to their attention. In some cases, approved “poll watchers” are on the premises, these are not official election office workers, they must have approval to be on site and they are not to influence or intimidate any voter or election worker. When votes are tallied, they are only allowed to be present. They do not instruct, intimidate or suggest. As their name suggests, they are to simply watch.
There is no cell phone use allowed at the polling place, to include taking pictures. There is no campaigning of any kind, including clothing, signs, pins or stickers within 150 feet of the polls. A candidate, just like any typical citizen, is allowed to enter the polling place to cast their vote. A state recognized ID will be required. If you do not have one, the elections office will make one for you at no cost. Please contact our local office for the procedure.
Early voting is taking place at the Americus Sumter County Expo Center (old fairgrounds) located at 903 Adderton Street (HW 30). Hours for voting during the work week are 8-5. For Saturday voting, on 10.22 and 10.29, the hours will be 9-5. Should you prefer to vote on election day, November 8, 2022 please go to your regular precinct between the hours of 7am and 7pm. As for those who typically vote at the Griffin Bell Golf and Conference Center, you will be voting at the JROTC building on the old Americus Sumter High School campus at 805 Harrold Avenue. There is a drop-box located at the courthouse. Just as early voting, you may drop your absentee ballot in the box until November 4, 2022. Again, just like early voting, you may drop it off between 8am and 5pm. The box is not “open” on Saturdays or Sundays.
The Secretary of State website provides everything you need to know about participating in the election process. You can find how to apply for and track an absentee ballot, what districts you reside in, status of your registration, register as a voter, your designated polling place, a sample ballot of precisely what will be on your personal ballot and much more. The website is mvp.sos.ga.gov.
To access our local voter and registration page, which has a link to the Secretary of State website, please visit sumtercountygaelections.org If you would personally like to speak with a local election professional, their office is located in the courthouse at 500 West Lamar Street in Americus. They are housed in suite 140 on the entering floor. You may also contact them by phone at 229.928.4580. Should you prefer to utilize mail, their address is Voter Registration and Elections, PO Box 1263, Americus Georgia 31709.
Go do your thing, Sumter County!