In the July 31 primary, a total of 6,736 Effingham County voters cast ballots.
That voter turnout has been surpassed for the general election prior to voters going to the polls on Nov. 6. As of close of business Thursday, more than 7,000 of Effingham County’s 28,962 registered voters had taken advantage of early voting to cast ballots.
“We’ve had many people come in and be excited about it,” said Gail Whitehead, Effingham County elections and registration supervisor. “They’re really pleased with early voting. They like it. It’s a convenience.”
Friday is the last day for early voting. Voters can go to the Elections and Registration Office at 284 Highway 119 South or the old Marlow Elementary School at 4752 Highway 17 South, from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Early voting was held for three weeks this year, compared to one week in 2008, the last presidential election year, when approximately 6,300 people early voted in Effingham County. This week, Whitehead said, at least 500 people have voted per day between the two locations.
One of them was Franklin Polite, who explained, “I want to make sure I get my vote in.”
Early voter Ann Kothe said she has a commitment that will make voting on Tuesday difficult. Even so, she said, she would have taken advantage of the convenience of early voting.
“It’s great, not to mention not having to deal with the long lines they will have on Tuesday,” Kothe said. “I would’ve voted early anyway.”
Polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Whitehead reminds voters that, once early voting ends, they must go to their designated precinct — not to the Elections and Registration Office — to vote.
Effingham County voters will decide between Democrat Franklin Goldwire and Republican Wendall Kesslar for county commission at-large chairman. Voters in District 1 also will choose either incumbent Democrat Bob Brantley or Republican challenger Forrest Floyd as their county commissioner.
The ballot also includes two U.S. House of Representative races: District 1 between 10-term Republican Jack Kingston and Democratic challenger Lesli Rae Messinger and District 12 between Democratic incumbent John Barrow and Republican Lee Anderson.
While few local races are on the ballot, the highly-anticipated presidential election is driving up voter turnout.
“Typically in a presidential year, you have a lot better turnout,” Whitehead said. “Some people register to vote only to vote in the presidential elections and, of course, that’s their prerogative.”
This will be the first general election under the new district and precinct boundary lines drawn last year as a result of the 2010 census. Effingham County had one congressional seat prior to the redistricting and now has two, which Whitehead said has caused some confusion among voters.
“We’ve had many people call after voting and say, ‘John Barrow was not on my ballot. What happened?’ Well, you’re not in his district anymore — you’re in the First Congressional District instead,” she said.
Due to redistricting, some voters have been relocated to other polling locations.The following polling locations are no longer in use – Powers Baptist Church, Fellowship Bible Church, St. Boniface Catholic Church, Goshen Road Baptist Church, Liberty Christian Church, Pineora Baptist Church and the Effingham County Recreation Gym.
Three precincts have new polling locations:
• Precinct 1B – Sand Hill Baptist Church, 1931 Sand Hill Rd., Guyton
• Precinct 3C – Bethel Lutheran Church, 1984 Highway 21 North, Springfield
• Precinct 4C – Multi-Agency Call Center, 181 Recycle Way, Guyton.
Voters with any questions about election day are encouraged to visit the secretary of state’s Web site at www.sos.ga.gov/mvp or call the Effingham County Elections and Registration Office at 754-8030.