What to know:
- Election Day weather: Sunny with a high of 56 degrees. Precincts open at 7 a.m. (around 37 degrees) and close at 7 p.m. (around 46 degrees).
- Where do you vote: Please check here before heading out on Tuesday: Secretary of State’s My Voter Page.
- Election results: We’ll post links to the Secretary of State’s Office as well as county-by-county totals for Northwest Georgia. Be prepared for a long night as voting patterns could mirror those from the Nov. 3 general election.
By Natalie Simms
The 2020 election cycle in Georgia will finally end Tuesday with the U.S. Senate and Public Service Commission runoff. The pandemic, primaries, general election and runoffs have extending the voting year from early March 2020 to Jan. 5, 2021. Local elections officials are not only gearing up for a busy day at the polls on Tuesday but also for what’s ahead in 2021.
Advance and absentee voting has gone smoothly for the Floyd County Elections office, according to Dr. Melanie Conrad, chair of the Floyd County Board of Elections.
“Our office staff and poll workers have been doing an excellent job moving voters and votes through the process,” says Conrad. “Shout-out to our poll managers Deborah Ward and Frances Herron and Vanessa Waddell. These people inspire me!”
Advance voting ended Dec. 31 with 15,072 in-person voters over three weeks. Also as of Dec. 31, a total of 5,670 absentee ballots had been received by mail.
“This is less than we had for the Nov. 3 election at the same time,” says Conrad. “If I had to predict I would think we will end up with about 55-60% turnout. I encourage Floyd County voters to prove me wrong and go vote so that we have a higher turnout.”
The elections office began processing — not tabulating — absentee votes on Dec. 28.
Precincts are open 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Please check your precinct and voter information before going. You can do so at the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page.
The Elections Office will be still be busy in 2021. There will be municipal elections in November but there are other changes ahead that do involve voting.
“We only have municipal elections slated for 2021. I do not know what will be on that ballot at this time,” says Conrad. “The Elections Office will still be busy. We need to hire a new chief clerk, find a new location for our office and ensure that the office is fully staffed.”
As for the municipal elections, City Clerk Joe Smith says all three seats of Ward 2 of Rome City Commission will be on the ballot. Those seats are currently filled by Jamie Doss, Wendy Davis and Randy Quick. All seven seats of the Rome City Board of Education also will be on the ballot.
“We will set qualifying fees in January, probably at our Jan. 25th (City Commission) meeting. Qualifying will be in August and those dates will be set by the state but will probably be Aug. 16-20,” says Smith. “The City Commission will also need to decide if we want to have weekend voting in the municipal election. State law requires three weeks of early voting but weekend voting is not required. It would be an additional expense. But that is something they will have to decide before the election.”
Advance voting in Bartow County has yielded a higher turnout than normal for a runoff, says Joseph Kirk, Elections Supervisor for Bartow County Elections and Voter Registration.
“Advance voting has gone fairly well. We’ve had a higher turnout than we usually get for a runoff but not quite as high as we did in November. I think we would have had higher turnout if it wasn’t for the holidays,” he says.
Bartow had a total of 18,765 advance in-person voters over the three-week early voting period. Kirk says his office is preparing for a 30-40% turnout on Election Day.
As for what’s ahead, Kirk says there will be a special election scheduled in March for Cartersville and White, along with municipal elections in November. He is not yet sure what will be on the ballot. The Cartersville City Clerk was out of the office for vacation and unable to confirm what seats will be up for re-election this year.
Polk County Elections officials are hoping for a 60% voter turnout for the Runoff election, according to Brande Coggins, Elections Coordinator for Polk County Board of Elections & Registration.
“Our office is hoping to finish this week with a total of 10,000 votes cast prior to Election Day. This will include absentees already accepted and all early voters,” she says. “We hope to achieve the 10,000 mark in order to minimize crowds on Election Day and to allow for social distancing practices in all Polling Locations. November saw a 72% turnout, and we hope to see a 60% turnout to conclude this unprecedented year.”
Polk did see over 10,000 votes cast before Tuesday. Advance voting ended Dec. 31 with 8,119 in-person voters, along with 2,001 absentee ballots received by mail.
As for what’s ahead, Coggins says 2021 should be a very “quiet” year.
“It will be a quiet year in terms of elections days, but our office will be hard at work all year. This ‘quiet’ year will allow the Elections Office to reset, reflect, and reorganize,” she says. “We hope to use this time to prepare for the 2022 General Election Cycle and use our learnings from this high-volume year to better prepare.
“2021 will also consist of municipal elections in November. Special elections are always a possibility but they will be announced as they come, but should be on a much smaller scale.”
Coggins says her office is contracted by the cities of Cedartown and Rockmart to hold their elections, but she is not yet sure what offices will be on the ballot.
Gordon County Elections officials are also hoping for a 60% voter turnout for Tuesday’s Runoff, according to Shea Hicks, chairperson of Gordon County Board of Elections and Voter Registration Office.
“We had 8,201 early voters and we have received back 3,035 absentee ballots by mail. We still have 821 mail ballots that are outstanding,” she says. “We are hoping that we have a 60% voter turnout for this election.”
The elections office began processing — not tabulating — absentee votes last week.
Gordon County will have an Education SPLOST on a special election on March 16. Municipal elections also will be held in November.