Nearly six in 10 of Oconee County’s active voters already had cast a ballot in the Jan. 5 runoff elections at the end of early voting on Thursday.
In the 12 days of early voting itself, 13,477 voters had gone to the Civic Center to select candidates in the two U.S. Senate runoff races and the state Public Service Commission runoff.
In addition, 4,040 had returned an absentee ballot, for a total of 17,517 votes cast, or 57.4 percent of the county’s 30,542 active voters or 54.8 percent of the county’s 31,985 registered voters.
More absentee ballots likely will have been dropped in the secure box in front of the Board of Elections and Registration at 10 Court Street, opposite the Courthouse in Watkinsville, when the office opens on Monday, and others likely will be returned by mail before the 7 p.m. deadline on Tuesday.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday for in-person voting, and voters are to go to the polling places used in the Nov. 3 election to cast a ballot.
While the number of voters who have returned a ballot already suggests turnout will be high, it also suggests turnout will be lower than for the November election.
At the end of early voting for the Nov. 3 election, 15,972 voters had participated in early in-person voting, and 5,516 had returned an absentee ballot, for a total of 19,154 votes cast. That is 1,637 more than had cast a ballot at the end of the day on Thursday.
Those 19,154 voters in November represented 63.8 percent of the county’s then 30,033 active voters or 60.6 percent of the total registered voters at that time, compared with the 57.4 and 54.8 percent figures respectively on Thursday.
Nov. 3 Election
In the Nov. 3 election, 38 of the then inactive but property registered voters actually cast a ballot, so the total number of active voters after the election was 30,071.
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Of those 30,071 voters, 25,399 cast a ballot in the election, for a turnout rate of 84.5 percent.
Of those 25,399 voters, 14.0 percent (3,565 voters) cast a ballot in-person on election day, 62.9 percent (15,972) voted advanced in-person, and 23.1 percent (5,857) voted by absentee ballot.
Five provisionally cast ballots subsequently were accepted and counted as well for a total of 25,399 votes.
The county had issued 7,535 absentee ballots at the end of early voting for the Nov. 3 election, and 73.2 percent of those had been returned at that point.
The county had issued fewer (5,172) absentee ballots at the end of early voting on Thursday, but a slightly higher percentage (78.1) of those had been returned.
Early voting ran for 16 days prior to the Nov. 3 vote versus 12 for the election on Tuesday.
Participation in early voting for the runoff dropped sharply after the first week and never completely recovered, while turnout at the end of early voting for the November race was higher than at the beginning.
Only the three state races are on the runoff ballot on Tuesday, two U.S. Senate races and a Public Service Commission contest.
Oconee County voters overwhelmingly favored incumbent U.S. Sen. David Perdue (68.0 percent) and incumbent Republican Public Service Commissioner Lauren Bubba McDonald (69.1 percent) in November voting.
Oconee County voters gave Republican candidates in the open special election for the U.S. Senate seat held by Kelly Loeffler 67.6 percent of the votes cast.
Democrat Jon Ossoff got 29.7 percent of the vote in the race with Perdue, while Democrat Daniel Blackman got 27.6 percent of the vote in the race with McDonald.
Democratic candidates in the special Senate election got 30.2 percent of the Oconee County vote.
At the state level, Perdue had 49.7 percent of the vote to Ossoff’s 48.0, McDonald had 49.9 percent to Blackman’s 47.0, and Republican candidates in the special election got 49.3 percent of the vote to 48.4 percent for Democrats.
Libertarian candidates were on the ballots in all three elections, and the special election had independent candidates as well.