In the first week of Absentee In Person, or early, voting, only 121 of Watkinsville’s 2,209 registered voters have cast a ballot, or 5.5 percent.
Early voting usually picks up some as the election gets closer, but, if it holds to the present pattern, only 363 people will cast a ballot before the Nov. 5 election, or 16.4 percent.
In recent elections in the county, more than half of those who voted did so in early voting. The figure was 56.3 percent last November. That suggests about 726 out of the city’s 2,209 registered voters will cast a ballot--or just 32.9 percent.
Oconee County Director of Elections Fran Leathers had estimated turnout at about 30 percent at the Watkinsville Election Forum on Oct. 3 when she was asked how she was preparing for the election.
Two days earlier, at the meeting of the county’s Board of Elections and Registration, Leathers had explained procedures for the Watkinsville election and demonstrated the new election equipment that will be used next year.
First Week Of Voting
Early voting began at the Elections and Registration Office next door to the Courthouse in Watkinsville on Monday, and only 18 persons showed up that day to cast a ballot.
The figure bounced around that number over the next three days before increasing to 35 on Friday.
|Early Voting After First Week (Click to Enlarge)|
A year ago, when voters across the county were deciding statewide offices, 713 showed up on the first day of early voting.
Voting stayed at that level during the three weeks of early voting and then jumped 55.1 percent on the final day over the day before.
Absentee In Person Voting, the official name for early voting at the county’s election office, included a Saturday a year earlier.
Early voting for the Watkinsville races–for mayor, one Council seat, and a Brunch Bill referendum–does not include a Saturday.
The Elections and Registration Office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through Nov. 1.
At the Election Forum on Oct. 3 and the meeting of the Board of Elections and Registration on Oct. 1, Leathers explained that the county has consolidated what used to be the Annex Precinct, which voted at the Government Annex on Greensboro Highway on the south side of Watkinsville, and the City Hall Precinct.
Voters from the city of Watkinsville fell into both precincts, and all will now vote at City Hall on Nov. 5.
Leathers said at the Election Forum that she expects to have six voting machines at City Hall that day and can bring in more if needed.
“When we have a smaller election or a city elections,” Leathers said at the Election Forum, there’s not a large voter turnout.
“And when you think about 2,200 people, and you say 30 percent turn out and 50 percent of the 30 percent come to my office, you’re not looking at a large number of people that you have to worry about here on election day.”
Voters will use the same voting machines as have been used for past elections, Leathers said at that meeting.
It isn’t possible to know if the pattern from the past will hold this year, a nonpartisan city race.
The mayoral race is between incumbent Mayor Dave Shearon and former state Representative Bob Smith.
The Council Post 2 race is between incumbent Connie Massey and Jonathan Kirkpatrick.
Voters also will decide if they want to allow the Council to extend the hours during which restaurants in the city can sell alcohol on Sundays.
At present, the sale of alcohol cannot take place before 12:30 p.m. State law now allows local governments to pass legislation permitting sales to start at 11 a.m.
Elections And Registration Meeting
At the Oct. 1 meeting of the Board of Elections and Registration, Leathers updated the group on the new voting machines that the county will start using with the presidential primary on March 24 of next year.
The county will receive 119 ballot marking devices, 119 ballot printers and 17 precinct scanners, according to Leathers.
The equipment “will be coming in in shifts,” Leathers said. She just received a sample set the past week, she said.
Leathers said she did not have space to store the equipment at the current office, so the new equipment will be stored in a secure vault at the Annex, she said.
Leathers announced that Jonathan Wallace had resigned from the Board of Elections and Registration and that Ken Davis would be replacing him as the Democratic Party representative.
Wallace told the Oconee County Democrats at its meeting on Oct. 17 that his new work schedule made it impossible for him to represent the Party on the Board.
Jennifer Stone, assistant director of Elections and Registration, told the Board that the county added 76 voters in September.
The new total number of registered voters is 30,808 voters as of Sept. 30. Of those, 28,372 are classified as active, and 2,436 are classified as inactive, according to her report.
Leathers gave a demonstration of the equipment following the meeting.
The video below is of the Oct. 1 meeting of the Board of Elections and Registration.
The demonstration of the new equipment is at 25:46 in the video.