Early Macon-Bibb voting ends with low turnout

pramati@macon.comJanuary 10, 2014 

Just 402 residents of District 2 showed up to vote early this week in the special election for the open Macon-Bibb County Commission seat.

That represents just 5 percent of the 8,085 eligible voters in the district.

Tuesday’s election will mark the third time residents will try to choose between former Macon City Councilmen Larry Schlesinger and Henry Ficklin. Schlesinger initially took a plurality of votes during September’s special election in a race with Ficklin and candidate Paul Bronson. Then, he appeared to have won October’s runoff by 26 votes.

But Ficklin challenged the election results, noting that some residents were given incorrect ballots. A judge called for a new election between Ficklin and Schlesinger.

During the runoff, nearly 3,400 voters turned out to cast ballots.

Elections Supervisor Jeanetta Watson said there were no issues during the week of early voting. She said two people who thought they were eligible to vote in the race were told they weren’t. They filled out challenge ballots. Those ballots will be counted Friday by the Board of Elections.

Watson said elections officials did a thorough check of everyone who lives in District 2 to avoid the residency issues of the previous voting.

Ficklin complained Friday that some residents only received letters that day informing them of the election and early voting dates, since the letters were postmarked Thursday. However, the letters were only sent as a courtesy, Watson said, and usually aren’t sent before an election. The letters were sent late because officials just received mailing addresses from the state, she said.

Watson attributed the low turnout to the unusual January voting date, which included record-low temperatures during the early part of the week. She said she’s hoping for a bigger turnout Tuesday.

Voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday in six District 2 precincts, including three split precincts: River Edge Behavioral Center, 175 Emery Highway; Northeast Magnet High School, 1646 Upper River Road; Pentecostal Temple, 928 Anthony Road; Memorial Gym, 763 Long St.; Bruce Elementary School, 3660 Houston Ave.; and North Macon Park, North Macon Park Drive.

Staff writer Jim Gaines contributed to this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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