Advance voting will begin Oct. 5 in the mayoral and commission runoff races, the Bibb County Board of Elections decided Tuesday.
Board Vice Chairman Steve Allen said there will tentatively be five more days of early voting, Oct. 7-11, but that hadnt been finalized as of Tuesday. Early voting takes place at the Board of Elections office, 2445 Pio Nono Ave.
The Oct. 15 mayoral runoff, between Macon Mayor Robert Reichert and former Mayor C. Jack Ellis, will decide who will serve as mayor of the new Macon-Bibb County consolidated government, which takes over Jan. 1.
In addition, four races for new commission seats will be decided: District 2, in which Macon City Councilmen Henry Ficklin and Larry Schlesinger square off; District 4, pitting Councilwoman Beverly Olson against Mallory Jones; District 6, where Councilman Ed DeFore faces Adah Roberts; and District 8, which features a race between Councilmen Charles Jones and Virgil Watkins.
At Tuesdays meeting, board members were told by IT workers that some of the issues that plagued early voting for the Sept. 17 special election have been fixed, and that voters who show up for early voting this time around wont have the long waits.
Allen said he attributed many of the voting problems to the new state-mandated software the county is using. Bibb is the first county in Georgia to use the software.
Bibb is the guinea pig, he said. We had the district information correct in our system, but the secretary of states (computers) had different addresses. I know (local officials) are working every day on the problem into the night. The IT person felt confident that things were now right, but weve received assurances before that things were OK.
Allen said the board also wants to avoid a repeat of confusion from election night, in which the countys website reported that all 40 precincts had been tallied, suggesting that the count was over. However, the website didnt note that more than 8,000 advance and absentee ballots still needed to be counted, which turned out to have an impact on the mayors race and the District 6 race.
Allen said election officials now plan to start counting the early votes as soon as the polls close.
In the District 6 race, challenger Robert Abbott thought he had made it into a runoff with DeFore. However, when the additional votes were counted, Roberts topped Abbott by 62 votes.
On Monday, Abbott asked elections officials for a recount. During Tuesdays meeting, the board noted that Allens vote total did not put him within the requisite margin -- 1 percent -- needed to secure a recount. His vote tally was 0.4 percent outside the margin.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.