Changing the form of an areas government is confusing enough. Thats finally been settled. Macon and Bibb County will consolidate as of Jan. 1, 2014. The qualifying period has come and gone and we know who is running for office and in what districts. Now there is another confusing hurdle to jump. Voters need to know in what district they reside. The old lines are gone, although the voting precincts remain.
Gone are the days when you couldnt vote for a candidate because of a partisan primary. There were many who skipped the Republican primary last year so they could vote for sheriff on the Democratic ticket. While partisan primaries are not totally dead, they are for this election. And there are other changes.
For the first time, all Bibb County residents will be able to vote for mayor, but instead of voting in one of five City Council wards and four Bibb County Commission districts, there are nine unified districts; thats it. No more three representatives per ward. The 21 people who represented the area will be cut to 10.
We have provided all the election information you need on macon.com. There is an interactive map labeled "INTERACTIVE MAP: Macon-Bibb County consolidated government districts." (Click here to view it.) You can use this color-coded map to zoom in on your street to find your district. Click on the district and a pop-out section will appear detailing the candidates running in that district. The pop-out also has a wealth of information, including population demographics and voting history. Candidate profiles will also be found in this elections section along with other election-related stories as they are published. Profiles for the mayoral candidates begin today and two will run each Sunday in alphabetical order.
There are also very important dates to remember. You must be registered to vote, and the last day to register for the Sept. 17 election is Aug. 19. If you voted in 2012, there is no need to register again. The early voting period runs Aug. 26-Sept. 13. A runoff, if necessary, will be held Oct. 15.
To vote via absentee, a voter must request a ballot. Just because a voter used an absentee ballot during the last election cycle does not mean the Board of Elections will automatically send an absentee ballot.
Voters can pick up an absentee ballot application at the Board of Elections or use the secretary of states website at mvp.sos.state.ga.us to print out the form. Mail the completed form to:
Board of Elections
P.O. Box 6297
Macon, GA 31208
Theres no reason to miss this voting opportunity. Picture in your minds eye the long lines that stretched for miles in last weeks Zimbabwe elections. Here it is so easy to vote we take it for granted. Even if a voter is stricken by illness the day of the election, all they need do is call 478-621-6622, by noon, and an absentee ballot will be delivered to them.
We hear the constant mantra that people want good government, but that process starts and ends with us. There are no bullets to dodge or repercussions to pay. We dont have to dip our palms in ink. We simply walk into our precinct, show our ID, and vote.