Thursday, December 17, 2020

Strong Early Voting In Oconee County For Jan. 5 Runoff Gives Mixed Messages About Final Turnout

***Fewer Days For Early Voting***

More Oconee County voters have turned out on each of the first three days of early voting for the Jan. 5 runoff than turned on the first three days of early voting for the Nov. 3 general election, and the total number of votes cast in early voting stands at 4,123, or 12.9 percent of the county’s registered voters.

The number of absentee ballots returned so far (2,153), however, is behind the number received after the first three days of early voting in October for the November election.

Early voting for the Jan. 5 runoff contains four fewer days than did early voting in October, so one-quarter of early voting for the Jan. 5 runoff is now completed, with a total of 6,276 ballots cast either in person or absentee.

By the end of four days of early voting in October–or a quarter of the 16 days–7,738 votes had been cast either in person or via absentee ballots.

That 7.738 represented 24.5 percent of the then 31,594 registered voters. The 6,276 votes cast as of the end of the day on Wednesday represented 19.6 percent of the now 31,985 voters registered for the Jan. 5 runoff.

Early voting continues from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday and during those same hours Dec. 21 to 23 and Dec. 28 to Dec. 31. Voting is at the Oconee County Civic Center, 2661 Hog Mountain Road, east of Butler’s Crossing.

Absentee Ballots

It is still possible to obtain an absentee ballot for the Jan. 5 runoff, and instructions are on the web site of the Oconee County Board of Elections and Registration.

Absentee ballots can be returned by mail to be received by the end of the day on Jan. 5 or dropped at a secure, monitored drop box in front of the Board of Elections and Registration office, 10 Court Street, opposite the Courthouse in Watkinsville.

Christmas Tree And Dropbox
10 Court Street, Watkinsville

At the end of the day on Wednesday, the county had issued 4,983 absentee ballots in response to requests from voters. At the end of the day on Oct. 14, after three days of early voting, the county had issued 7,037 absentee ballots.

By the end of early voting in October, the county had issued 7,535 absentee ballots, and 5,857 absentee ballot votes were included in the final tally of 25,399 votes cast in the election.

Some voters who received an absentee ballot opted to vote in person either in advance or on election day rather than use the paper ballot issued in advance.

In the end, 15,972 of those who cast a ballot in the Nov. 3 election did so in early voting, and 3,570 voted in person on election day, including five persons whose ballot was initially labeled as provisional but was ultimately counted.

Going into balloting on election day in November, 30,033 of the county’s 31,594 registered voters were considered to be active, but 38 of the inactive voters came out to vote and became active.

That means that for the Nov. 3 election, turnout was 84.5 percent, with 62.9 percent of those casting a ballot voting advanced in-person, 23.1 percent voting by absentee ballot, and 14.0 percent voting on election day.

Absentee voting was a popular option because of the pandemic. During early voting, the seven-day rolling average of added COVID-19 cases in the county ranged from 3.3 to 4.0.

The seven-day rolling average of added cases on Wednesday was 20.6 and is increasing. That average was 15.6 on Monday.

Not A Local Election

Only three races are on the ballot in the runoff: David Perdue, incumbent Republican U.S. Senator and Jon Ossoff, his Democrat challenger; incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler and Raphael Warnock, her Democratic challenger; and incumbent Republican Public Service Commissioner Lauren Bubba McDonald Jr. and his Democratic challenger, Daniel Blackman.

Perdue is seeking a second six-year term. Loeffler, appointed to fill the unexpired term of Johnny Isakson pending the election, is seeking to serve the final two years of his term.

McDonald has served on the Public Service Commission since 2009 and is seeking another four-year term.

Ossoff is an Atlanta-based investigative journalist. Warnock is senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Blackman is from Forsyth County and has worked as a business advisor and in nonprofits in the environmental area.

November Voting

Oconee County contributed 17,108 votes (68.0 percent) to Perdue in November, and 7,465 (29.7 percent) to Ossoff.

The county contributed 16,847 (67.6 percent) to the six Republican candidates in the special Senate race to replace Isakson, and 7,530 (30.2 percent) to the eight Democratic candidates.

Oconee voters gave 17,046 (69.0 percent) to McDonald in the Public Service Commission race, and 6,812 (27.6 percent) to Blackman.

By contrast, Oconee County voters, in the final count, gave 16,595 votes (65.9 percent) to Republican Donald Trump in the presidential race, and 8,162 (32.4 percent) to Democrat Joseph Biden.

Trump underperformed Republican voting locally and in the state on Nov. 3, and Biden overperformed.

Perdue, Loeffler and McDonald need Oconee County voters to better their ratios on Jan. 5, while Ossoff, Loeffler, and Blackman need Oconee County voters to give them the same ratio or more than they gave to Biden.

The Jan. 5 voting will give a sense of Republican continued strength in the county and state and Democratic resurgence.

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