This election season has been accelerated ever since the General Assembly moved the normal July voting date to May 20. Candidates have had to scramble across the state to get in front of voters and to raise money. Early voting started at the end of April and will end Friday. As of Tuesday, only 3,175 Bibb County voters had taken advantage of voting early.
Many of the candidates are worried voters are not paying attention. That shouldn’t be the case. There are plenty of offices to vote for in the Democratic and Republican primaries -- and there are plenty of people in the respective races. There are men and women, black and white, young and old, office holders and newbies. There are at least 10 contested races on the Democratic Primary ballot and at least eight on the Republican ballot (number varies because some local, state and federal races are not county or state wide).
One of the most sought after offices is the U.S. Senate seat held by the retiring Saxby Chambliss. Eleven candidates -- seven Republicans and four Democrats -- are seeking to be one of two on the November ballot. There are three Republicans seeking the governor’s office and 15 hope to replace state school Superintendent John Barge, who is one of the candidates for governor.
Locally, all of the seats in the General Assembly are up for grabs. While many are uncontested, several are and due to the Balkanizing of state Senate and House districts, the winners in the primaries will be unopposed in November. On the Democratic ballot there are four straw poll questions: Should the state raise the minimum wage? Should the state expand Medicaid? Should the state form an independent ethics commission and should the state Constitution be amended to make education the state’s funding priority? These are just questions that hold no weight, even if approved.
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We cannot stress enough the importance of this and all elections. Most of us sit and complain about what goes on at school boards, city halls, under the Gold Dome and in Washington, D.C. Still, for many voters, this election means nothing. It’s not on their radar screens. That has dire implications. For candidates without a war chest to get their message across, there are only faint hopes. Those candidates who can sing “God Bless the Child” and have high name recognition have the best chances.
Candidates are spending their time, money and shoe leather. We hope voters are listening and will take just a few minutes out of their day to cast a ballot. Consider voting a “License to Legally Complain.”