Just less than half–48.3 percent–of Oconee County’s Active Registered Voters cast a ballot in the merged Presidential Primary, Party Primary, and Non-Partisan Judicial election on Tuesday.
That compares with a turnout of 53.7 in the Presidential Primary in March of 2016 and with the turnout of 30.81 in the May 2016 Party Primary and Non-Partisan election.
Turnout was highest on Tuesday in Oconee County in the Antioch Precinct (57.4 percent) in the far south of the county that is home to successful Sheriff Candidate James Hale and lowest in the Bogart Precinct (42.1 percent) in the far north of the county.
Election Day voting took place without any significant problems or delays, according to Fran Leathers, director of Oconee County Elections and Registration, despite the first-time use of the new voting equipment and the restrictions required by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to selecting party nominees for the November elections and voting in the non-partisan judicial races, county Democrats and Republicans responded to a number of questions placed on the ballot by party leaders.
Democrats said overwhelmingly that county-level elections should be non-partisan, and a third of the Republicans said Board of Education elections should be non-partisan.
Republicans were evenly split on whether Republican Primaries should be open only to Republicans.
Unused Absentee Ballots
A total of 9,809 of Oconee County’s 28,594 active registered voters requested an Absentee Ballot for the June 9 elections, but only 7,420 of the ballots were returned by the end of voting on Tuesday.
|Leathers At Town Hall Meeting 1/14/2020|
The Board of Elections and Registration cancelled 838 of the ballots when the voter showed up to vote either in early voting or on the day of the election.
Of the Democratic Absentee Ballots issued and not cancelled, 85.3 percent were cast, while 83.2 percent of the Republican Absentee Ballots issued and not cancelled were cast
In the end, 53.7 percent of the votes were via Absentee Ballots, 32.2 percent were via In-Person voting on election day, and 14.1 percent were via In-Person in Advance voting.
A total of 4,444 Oconee County voters cast their ballots at their precinct voting locations on June 9.
Director of Elections and Registration Leathers told me in an email message Thursday that the county “had no delays in voting as far as I know.”
“The average amount of time to vote was 1.5 minutes to check in, 4.5 minutes to vote and less than a minute to scan,” she said. “So average time would be a little over 6 minutes per voter.”
Leather said she had no shortage of poll workers, despite the pandemic.
“We had the number working that we expected and planned for,” she said.
Jennifer Stone, assistant director of Elections and Registration, told me in an email message on Wednesday that the only technical problem was a battery for a printer that needed to be replaced as the day progressed.
“Most of the issues were unfamiliarity with the equipment for both the poll workers and voters!” Stone said. “ I think after the first hour or so, everyone had the hang of it.
“I am very proud of all of our poll workers!” Stone added.
The Oconee County Democratic Party had 11 questions on the Primary Ballot, while the Oconee County Republican Party had three.
The questions have no binding impact but allow the party leaders to judge the sentiment of those who used the respective party ballot for casting a vote.
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Most of the Democratic Party questions had a clear slant, and most of those who responded gave the expected answer.
Almost all of the respondents said Georgians should “work to stop climate change and listen to the scientific community, which recommends immediate action to combat this serious threat to our planet.”
Similarly, almost all of the respondents said “Georgia should enact basic standards to protect our environment from wasteful plastic items that pollute our state.”
Almost all of the respondents favored turning redistricting over to an “independent commission” and said the state should have a “non-partisan redistricting committee whose purpose is to prevent gerrymandering.”
Just less than three-quarters of the voters said Oconee County Commissioners and School Board members should be elected by districts rather than at large, as is the case at present.
Almost nine in ten of the voters said “local county-level elections should be non-partisan.” All local non-judicial offices in the county are now filled in partisan elections.
Almost nine in 10 of the Democratic voters opposed making Oconee County a Second Amendment Sanctuary County.
Between 3,715 and 3,560 voters responded to the questions.
The first Republican Party question was a lengthy one asking if the voters thought Georgia lawmakers should “expand educational options by allowing a student’s state education dollars to follow to the school that best fits their needs.”
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Just less than two-thirds approved.
A half of the voters said voting in “the Republican Primary” should “be limited to voters who have registered as Republicans.”
At present, Georgia does not allow for voters to register by party, so the question really asks both if registration by party should be allowed and if primaries should be restricted to those who registered by party. At present, voters are free to pick the ballot for any party.
About six in 10 of the Republican Ballot voters said Board of Education candidates should be “required to declare their political party.”
At present, a candidate can run with a party label or as an independent.
Between 9,422 and 9,507 of the Republican ballot voters responded to the questions.