Early voting pace picking up, and Saturday option drawing near

mstucka@macon.comOctober 25, 2012 

At least 35,700 Middle Georgia residents have already cast general election ballots, and more than a week of early voting -- and the only round of Saturday voting -- remain.

Elections offices across the region say turnout has been brisk, though more populated counties have seen longer lines. Some election officials say they expect -- or at least hope -- that this year’s early voting will exceed that of the last presidential race, which would reduce lines Nov. 6.

“We’re hoping to at least match 2008’s total,” said Andy Holland, an election technician in Houston County. “That just makes it so much easier on Election Day.”

In Houston County, 10,721 in-person ballots were cast through Wednesday at three locations. Wait times vary, with the slowest location, the Houston County Annex Building, averaging 30 to 45 minutes, Holland said.

In Bibb County, the line still extends outside the election office, but four years ago, the same line sometimes snaked down Pio Nono Avenue. Election Secretary Jeanetta Watson said many people are waiting 45 minutes to an hour to vote. All told, 9,713 had voted through Wednesday.

Others had happier news.

“Probably the longest anybody’s had to wait is maybe five minutes,” said Marette Fair, elections supervisor in Twiggs County.

But an abbreviated early voting schedule is putting more pressure on. This presidential election features just 21 early voting days. In 2008, there were 45 days.

Susan Rooks, the voting registrar for Laurens County, said 15 percent of her county’s voters have already turned out, and she expects maybe 30 percent will have voted by Nov. 6 -- far more than in 2008.

She also offered up a horror story: “I just had a friend from Gwinnett County, and he said it’s a 2½-hour wait.” Rooks said Laurens County voters may have to wait 10 to 20 minutes.

The only day of Saturday voting is coming up this weekend. Early voting wraps up in about one week, on Friday, Nov. 2. There is no early voting after that.

To actually vote, people must show identification that includes a current or expired Georgia driver’s license; any valid state or federal government-issued photo ID, including voter ID cards issued by the county registrar’s office or the Department of Driver Services; a valid U.S. passport; a valid federal or state employee photo ID, or valid military photo ID; or a valid tribal ID.

Here’s a sampler of information on other voting sites:

Baldwin County: (478) 445-4526. Early voting is 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, and this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Baldwin County Courthouse, Room 104, 121 N. Wilkinson St., Milledgeville.

Bibb County: (478) 621-6622. Early voting is 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, and this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 2445 Pio Nono Ave.

Crawford County: (478) 836-1877. Early voting is 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1011 U.S. 341 North, Roberta.

Houston County: (478) 987-1973. Early voting is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays in three locations: 801 Main St., Perry; 200 Carl Vinson Parkway, Warner Robins; and Middle Georgia Technical College’s Building G, 80 Cohen Walker Road, Warner Robins. Saturday voting runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 801 Main St., Perry.

Jones County: (478) 986-3222. Early voting is weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the government center, 166 Industrial Blvd., Gray.

Laurens County: (478) 272-2841. Early voting is 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 117 E. Jackson St., Suite A., in the Laurens County Courthouse Annex.

Monroe County: (478) 944-7622. Early voting is weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 550 N. Lee St., Forsyth.

Peach County: (478) 825-3514. Early voting this week and next at the Peach County Courthouse, Suite 102, in Fort Valley; weekdays from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Early voting next week only -- not Friday -- at the Byron Municipal Complex, 401 Main St., from 8 a.m. to noon and 1-4:30 p.m. weekdays. Voting this Saturday at both sites from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Twiggs County: (478) 945-3639. Early voting is weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Twiggs County Courthouse, Room 123, 425 Railroad St. North, Jeffersonville.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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