Early voting brisk at some Macon precincts

Bibb County voters were out early Tuesday morning to have their say on what could be a historic day in the county.

At Hutchings Academy on Riverside Drive, voters began arriving at 7 a.m., when polls opened, and a steady stream of men and women pulled up to cast their ballots during the first half-hour.

Poll workers were set up in the school’s lunchroom. Before 7, they huddled and took care of election day duties, which included taping a sign bearing voting instructions on a hallway wall.

Only two people were waiting at Barden Elementary in south Macon’s Bloomfield neighborhood, but folks started pouring in once the doors open.

In north Macon, voters were out in force at Northminster Presbyterian Church at about 8:30 a.m.

Just down the street at World Changes Church at Lundy and Wimbish roads, turnout was heavy at 7 a.m. but had slacked off by 8:30 a.m., poll workers said.

At North Macon Park near Riverside Drive, 15 people were in line at 7 a.m. and voting was steadying through 9 a.m.

Elections chief Elaine Carr has predicted a turnout Tuesday of between 35 and 40 percent. Advance voting this month brought in nearly 7,700 voters.

Macon resident Mary Harris was among the first voters at Hutchings.

Outside the school, she said she voted “yes” on two of the day’s biggest issues: whether to consolidate Macon and Bibb County governments, and whether to approve an extra penny of sales tax on the dollar for transportation improvements.

“I’m just tired of the division,” she said when asked why she voted for consolidation. As for her “yes” vote on the regional T-SPLOST measure, she added, “I would rather not see this area left in the dust” should some regions of the state approve the proposal and the region around Macon reject it.

Ballots also have contested races for sheriff in Bibb and Twiggs counties; county commission races in Baldwin, Bibb, Crawford, Jones, Laurens, Peach, Pulaski and Twiggs counties; and school board races in Houston, Jones, Laurens, Peach and Twiggs counties.

In Houston County, only a couple people were voting at about noon at the Elberta Road precinct.

At 2 p.m. at the Houston County Annex, more than 100 people had turned out to vote of more than 2,000 that could have -- with voters trickling in and out throughout the day, a poll worker said.

Traffic picked up Tuesday afternoon at the precinct at Feagin Mill Middle School. Poll workers said they believe the school’s Meet the Teachers open house from 4-6 p.m. played a part.

Weather could put a damper on voter turnout. The risk of showers and thunderstorms increases through day with severe storms possible in the afternoon and evening hours, according to the National Weather Service forecast.

A surface front is drifting into north Georgia and an upper level disturbance is expected to churn up the atmosphere by the afternoon hours.

Voters should bring an appropriate photo identification. For most people, that will be a valid or expired Georgia driver’s license. Other valid state or federal government-issued photo identification including passports or military ID are accepted.

To locate your voting precinct and see sample ballots, visit www.sos.georgia.gov/MVP online.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia and the FBI are on alert for reports of voter fraud.

Anyone experiencing problems at the polls are encouraged to call 752-3511 for the U.S. Attorney’s Office or 745-1271 for the FBI.

Complaints about ballot access or discrimination can be filed also with the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington D.C. at (800) 253-3931.

Telegraph staff writers Liz Fabian, Oby Brown, Woody Marshall, Mike Stucka, Wayne Crenshaw, Angela Woolen and Becky Purser contributed to this report.