Thursday, June 02, 2022

Oconee Election Board Certifies May 24 Vote, Outlines Plans For June 21 Runoff

***Only 11.9 Percent Of Votes Cast Were With Democratic Ballots***

The Oconee County Board of Elections and Registration certified the results of the May 24 party primaries and nonpartisan election on May 31, setting the stage for the party runoff elections on June 21.

Rebecca Anglin, director of Elections and Registration for the county, told the Board that the May 24 election had run smoothly, though there were long wait times on election day at all eight of the county’s polling locations.

The wait times ranged from 30 minutes to an hour and 45 minutes, she said.

Anglin said the wait times resulted from a long ballot, which many voters had not seen before they entered the voting booth. The party questions contributed to the long ballot, she said.

Voters were spending 30 to 40 minutes in the booth, Anglin said.

Turnout was exceptionally high at 41.9 percent, Anglin said, and she is expecting a drop off for the June 21 runoff. The runoff on the Republican ballot for Post 3 on the Board of Education may generate enough interest to lessen the normal drop off, she added.

The 1,449 voters who used the Democratic ballot for the May 24 election can only select a Democratic ballot on June 21, and the 10,677 voters who selected a Republican ballot can only select a Republican ballot on June 21.

The 89 voters who selected a nonpartisan ballot as well as those who are registered but did not vote can select either ballot in the runoff.

Board Meeting

The 20-minute-long Board of Elections and Registration meeting began with Anglin reading the report of vote tallies for each of the county’s eight precincts, followed by a vote of the Board to officially certify the results.

Shook, Hanley, Anglin, Davis, Hammond (L-R)
Voting To Certify Election Results 5/31/2022

Anglin as Director of Elections and Registration, is Board Chair. The other members are Ken Davis, the Democratic Party appointee, Kirk Shook, the Republican Party appointee, and Douglas Hammond and Jay Hanley, appointed by the Board of Commissioners.

In her Director’s Report, Anglin said that wait times for early voting occurred only in the final two days, May 19 and 20. Anglin had reported wait times of 25 minutes on the 19th and 45 minutes on the 20th.

A quarter of the 5,005 votes cast during early voting were on those two days.

Early voting was held at the Office of Elections and Registration, 10 Court Street, across from the Courthouse in downtown Watkinsville.

Early voting for the June 21 runoff also will be at that office, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 13 to 17.

Early voting for the Nov. 8 election will be at the Civic Center, Anglin said.

Election Day Reporting

The majority of votes in the May 24 election were cast on election day. That was 6,009, or 55.5 percent of the final tally of 12,215. The 5,005 Advance In Person votes made up 41.0 percent, and the 433 Absentee ballots were 3.5 percent.

“Election day was a success,” Anglin said. “Polling sites ran smoothly. Despite long wait times throughout the county, we did not have any type of equipment issues or electrical types things. Everything went great with that.”

Anglin said additional voting machines will be sent out in November to Poplar Springs Baptist Church voting site for Colham Ferry Precinct and to the Civic Center, voting site for the precinct of that name.

Anglin said “The long wait times were attributed to such a long ballot,” which took up two screens on the voting display.

The Republican Ballot contained 13 nonbinding questions, including five written by the local party. The Democratic Ballot contained 11 questions, two written by the local party.

Anglin said wait times were long all over the state on Election Day

Anglin said she does not expect delays for the runoff on June 21.

Turnout Expectations June 21

Anglin said the 41.9 percent turnout was high, based on her examination of turnout in races in the past.

She said she is expecting a much lower turnout on June 21.

“We’ve got something local on the ballot,” Anglin said, referring to the runoff for Post 3 on the Board of Education, “so I kind of think that may pull a little more interest.”

The Republican Party ballot will contain that local race as well as a runoff between top vote getters Mike Collins and Vernon Jones for the party’s nomination for U.S. House District 10.

The Democratic ballot does not contain any local races, but it does include runoffs for Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Insurance Commissioner, and Labor Commissioner as well as between Tabitha Johnson-Green and Jessica Allison Fore in U.S. House District 10.

Assistant Director of Elections and Registration Jennifer Stone said the county has 415 absentee ballot applications that have rolled over from the previous election. These are for persons 65 years old or older who requested absentee ballots for the year.

In addition, Stone said, the county has received seven new requests so far.

The deadline for submitting an application for an absentee ballot is 5 p.m. on June 10, and the deadline for returning an absentee ballot is election day, June 21.

Party Ballots

Anglin did not report on the number of ballots broken down by party at the meeting on May 31, but I had asked her in advance for that breakdown. She provided me with those data on May 28 and before the meeting on May 31.

The data show that only 11.9 percent of the votes cast in Oconee County were with the Democratic ballot. That is 1,449 out of the 12,215 total votes.

The 10,677 Republican ballots were 87.4 percent of the total, and the 89 nonpartisan votes were 0.7 percent.

Democratic ballots were 10.2 percent of those cast on election day, 12.7 percent of those cast in Early Voting, and 28.9 percent of the absentee ballots.

Crossover Voting

Much has been written in the media about what is labeled as Democratic crossover voting in the Republican primary on May 24 as an explanation for the lower turnout in the Democratic Primary and the high turnout in the Republican Primary.

The state does not have registration by party, however, and these analyses are largely based on a comparison with the ballot chosen by the voter in the 2020 primary.

The 2020 primary combined the presidential primary with the state and local primary, due to the pandemic, however, making that comparison problematic.

Only the Democrats had a competitive presidential primary in 2020, no doubt making the Democratic ballot more appealing for some voters.

Voters who float between the parties in the primaries likely see themselves as Independents.

For whatever reason, the 11.9 percent selecting the Democratic ballot on May 24 in Oconee County pales in comparison with the 32.4 percent of the vote Democrat Joe Biden received in the 2020 presidential race in Oconee County.

Consequences Of Ballot Restrictions

Since the Post 3 Board of Education race in the Republican Primary was the only local contest on the ballot on May 24, it might have attracted Independents as well as people who consider themselves to be Democrats to vote with the Republican ballot.

The Democratic Party did not put up any candidates locally, so it will not have any local candidates on the ballot in November as well.

The 10,677 voters who used the Republican ballot on May 24 now have the option of returning to the polls for the June 21 runoff between Ryan Hammock, who got 38.3 percent of the vote in the May 24 primary, and Julie Mauck, who got 41.7 percent.

Elliott Rogers received 20.3 percent.

In an email message to me on June 1, Rogers wrote that in the runoff “I am throwing my support behind Ryan.”

Hammock and Mauck also can reach out to any eligible voters who did not cast a ballot on May 24 and encourage them to use the Republican ballot on June 21.

Democratic Runoff In U.S. House District 10

Any Oconee County voter who opted for the Republican Primary on May24 is now precluded from casting a ballot to help decide the statewide Democratic races.

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The impact of that decision will be felt more in the U.S. House District 10 runoff than in the statewide races.

Frontrunner Tabitha Johnson-Green, who lives outside the District in Washington County, is matched with Jessica Allison Fore, who lives in Athens-Clarke County, which is in the District.

Johnson-Green has been the party’s nominee in both of the last two elections, when she received 37.1 percent of the vote against Republican Jody Hice in 2018 and 37.7 percent in 2020.

Johnson-Green received 36.9 percent of the Democratic vote in Oconee County on May 24, and Fore received 28.7 percent. Phyllis Hatcher, Femi Oduwole, and Paul Walton received the remainder of the votes.

Johnson-Green received 42.0 percent of the voter in the 18-county District, while Fore received 19.2 percent overall.

Fore’s 28.7 percent in Oconee County was her best performance, outpacing even the 24.0 percent she received in Clarke County.

Republican 10th District Vote

Oconee County Republicans gave a slight edge to former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun in the 10th District Congressional race, followed by Vernon Jones, Timothy Barr, and then Mike Collins.

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Jones had been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, but Oconee County voters gave him even less support that he got elsewhere in the District.

In the District as a whole, Collins was the top vote getter, with 25.6 percent of the vote, followed by Jones with 21.5. The remainder of the vote went to Barr, Broun, David Curry, Marc McMain, Alan Sims, and Mitchell Swan.

Collins ran best in his home county, Butts, where he got 60 percent of the vote.

Jones ran best in Hancock County, where he got 31.5 percent of the vote.

Jones does not live in the District. Residence in the District is not required for the U.S. House contests.

Republican Match With State Vote

Oconee County Republican voters gave 83.3 percent of their votes to incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp, compared with Kemp’s vote of 73.7 percent across the state.

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Trump-endorsed David Perdue got only 13.5 percent of the vote in Oconee County, compared with 21.8 percent in the state as a whole. In both the county and across the state, Catherine Davis, Kandiss Taylor, and Tom Williams received little support.

In the Republican U.S. Senate race, Trump-endorsed Hershel Walker did less well in Oconee County than he did across the state. Walker received 58.3 percent of the vote locally, versus 68.2 percent in the state as a whole.

Gary Black did better in Oconee County that he did in the state as a whole, as did Latham Saddler. Josh Clark, Kelvin King, and Jon McColumn did not get many voters in Oconee County or across the state.

Jones, Hice Ran Better In Oconee

Bert Jones ran stronger in Oconee County, with 55.5 percent of the vote in the Lieutenant Governor race, than he did in the state, where he received 50.1 percent of the vote. Trump had endorsed Jones in the primary.

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Butch Miller received 28.6 percent of the vote in Oconee County, and 31.1 percent statewide. Mack McGregor and Jeanne Seaver did not attract many voters locally or across the state.

Oconee County voters had a preference for Jody Hice, endorsed by Trump, in the Secretary of State race, giving him 49.7 percent of their vote. In the state, Hice received only 33.4 percent of the vote.

Incumbent Brad Raffensperger won with 52.4 percent of the vote statewide, but his vote in Oconee County was only 45.9 percent.

Hice ran considerably stronger in the 18 counties that make up the 10th Congressional District than he did in the state. He received 49.8 percent of the vote in those 18 counties, to 42.7 percent for Raffensperger.

Hice represents the existing 10th Congressional District, which overlaps quite a lot with the new 10th District boundaries.

David Belle Isle and T.J. Hudson were not major vote getters in Oconee County or in the state.

Incumbent Attorney General Chris Carr did much better in Oconee County that he did in the state as a whole. His opponent, John Gordon, was endorsed by Trump in that contest.

Democratic Comparisons

Stacey Abrams ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination for Governor, and incumbent U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock picked up only a single challenger, Tamara Johnson-Shealey.

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In Oconee County Johnson-Shealey got only 47 votes, to 1,384 for Warnock.

The Democrats had nine candidates running in the Lieutenant Governor race, which has now gone to a runoff with top vote getters Kwanza Hall and Charlie Bailey, with 30.1 percent and 17.6 percent of the vote respectively.

In Oconee County, Hall got only 16.1 percent of the vote to Bailey’s 31.8 percent.

Oconee County votes roughly matched statewide voters for Erick Allen, Tyrone Brooks, Tony Brown, Jason Hayes, Derrick Jackson, R. Malik, and Renitta Shannon.

In the Secretary of State race, Oconee County voters strongly favored Bee Nguyen, giving her 61.1 percent of the vote. In the state, she received only 44.3 percent.

Nguyen will meet Dee Hawkins-Haigler in the runnoff. Hawkins-Haigler received 18.7 percent of the vote statewide, and 13.9 percent of the vote in Oconee County.

Oconee County gave less support to John Eaves, Floyd Griffin, and Michel Owens than they each received in the state.

Oconee County voters overwhelmingly supported Jennifer Jordan in the Attorney General race, giving her 86.8 percent of the vote, to only 13.2 percent to Christian Wise Smith.

Across the state, Jordan received 77.6 percent of the vote.

Bailey, Nguyen, and Jordan all appeared at meetings of the Oconee County Democrats in the runup to the Primary. None of their competitors did.


The video below is of the May 31 meeting of the Oconee County Board of Elections and Registration.

I gave my camera and tripod to Assistant Director of Elections and Registration Jennifer Stone, and she recorded the meeting.

Seated at the table are Board Members Shook, Hanley, Anglin, Davis, and Hammond in that order.

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