Advance voting in Bibb will begin Oct. 5, board decides

pramati@macon.comSeptember 24, 2013 

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 hadn’t 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 Tuesday’s 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 won’t 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 state’s (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 we’ve 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 county’s website reported that all 40 precincts had been tallied, suggesting that the count was over. However, the website didn’t note that more than 8,000 advance and absentee ballots still needed to be counted, which turned out to have an impact on the mayor’s 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 Tuesday’s meeting, the board noted that Allen’s 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.

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