For many Middle Georgia counties, new round of voting beckons

Middle Georgia residents will get another chance to return to the voting booth beginning Monday.

That’s when voters can begin participating in early voting for the Aug. 21 runoff elections across much of the region, as well as a court-ordered Bibb County school board election using new school board districts.

Bibb County Elections Supervisor Elaine Carr said people who cast a vote July 31 can’t change parties in the Aug. 21 races.

“Whatever party they chose July 31, they can’t alter that in the runoff,” Carr said. People who did not vote July 31 can vote in either party Aug. 21.

Turnout is apt to be lackluster. In 2000, 24.6 percent of registered voters turned out, and in 2008 it was just 4.7 percent.

A substantial chunk of Middle Georgia still has to select a Republican nominee for congressional fights.

Rick Allen and John House both hope to become the Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop in the 2nd Congressional District, which includes much of Bibb County and all of Crawford, Peach, Macon and Dooly counties.

Republican voters in the 12th Congressional District also need to pick a nominee against U.S. Rep. John Barrow. The contenders are Lee Anderson and another candidate named Rick Allen.

Democratic voters also have to pick a Democratic nominee for state Senate District 26, where David Lucas is challenging incumbent Miriam Paris. The winner will face Republican Bobby Gale in a district that includes all or part of Bibb, Hancock, Jones, Twiggs, Washington and Wilcox counties.

Democrats in House District 139 will also have to pick a de facto winner from Patty Bentley and Thomas Coogle to represent an area that includes the southern part of Peach County as well as Dooly, Macon and Taylor counties.

There are also county-level elections across Middle Georgia.

In Bibb County, voters in school board districts that changed under a redistricting plan should receive their information cards by Monday, Carr said.

In District 1, Democrats Michael Keever and Brenda Sutton are challenging incumbent Ella Carter.

In District 2, a three-way fight among Democrats is brewing among Angel Davis-Hopper, Thelma Dillard and Alan Patrick Taylor. Incumbent Tommy Barnes is leaving the board because of term limits.

In District 3, Democrat Merritt Johnson is challenging incumbent Susan Sipe. The winner of that race will run against Republican Angela P. Freeman.

Other seats do not have contested primaries. District 4 voters will decide in November between Republican Lester Miller and Democrat Dominique Johnson. District 5 Democratic incumbent Tom Hudson and District 6 Republican candidate Jason E. Downey have no opposition in their races.

Other races in Middle Georgia include a fight for the Baldwin County County Commission District 2 post between Democrats Linda Diane Easley Fussell and Tommy Lee French Jr.

In Crawford County, school board District 3 incumbent Tim Johnson faces challenger Richard Jacobs. Because the position is nonpartisan, people who voted either Republican or Democratic -- or didn’t vote at all -- in the July 31 election can participate.

In Dooly County, incumbent Clerk of Superior Court Betty Colter hopes to retain the position against Democratic challenger Willie Mae Chaney.

And in Wilkinson County, Democrats will decide the tax commission race between Catherine Vanessa Fountain and Charles Wayn Gasaway.

Early voting will run next Monday through Friday, but hours and locations vary.

Early voting in Bibb County is scheduled to run from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the board of elections office, 2445 Pio Nono Ave., near the Office Depot store.

In Wilkinson County, early voting will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the County Courthouse Room 133. In Baldwin County, early voting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in County Courthouse, room 104.

For information on voting locations and sample ballots, visit www.sos.georgia.gov/mvp online.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.