Voter registration begins online

by Sarah Fay Campbell

The distribution of absentee ballots for military voters began this week for the May 20 general election primary and non-partisan election.

While paper ballots for military voters must be available for at least 45 days before an election, in-person early voting for the election won’t begin until April 28.

Local elections officials will begin “logic and accuracy testing” on the absentee ballots on Monday.

There are three weeks remaining to register to vote. And registering has been made easier with the launch of an online voter registration system.

Georgians with a valid Georgia driver’s license will now be able to register to vote or change their address online.

The state is also launching a smartphone app giving users access to the information available on their “My Voter Page.” The “Georgia Votes” app is available for both Android and iPhones.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced the new technology at the joint annual meeting of the Georgia Election Officials Association and Voter Registrars Association.

Coweta Elections Superintendent Jane Scoggins was one of several Coweta officials at the conference.

“I think this will be a good thing for younger people,” Scoggins said of the new online services and app. She’s not concerned that the online registration could lead to fraud, because it’s all tied in with a driver’s license number.

In 2012, Kemp worked with legislators on a new law that makes the online registration possible.

“We did this because Georgians deserve to be able to register to vote or change their information with as much ease as possible,” Kemp said. “This not only will provide benefits to the voter” but will also make things easier for Georgia counties, he said.

Scoggins thinks the online registration will be particularly attractive to teens. In Georgia, you can register to vote once you are 17 1/2, though you can’t actually vote until you are 18.

April is High School Voter Registration Month and Scoggins said they are hoping to bring in some state officials to do voter education and outreach for high school students.

There will be several races on the May 20 ballot. There are four elective seats on the Coweta County Board of Education. First District Board Member Amy Dees is being challenged by Monica Terrell. Third District Board Member Harry Mullins is being challenged by Jan Horne, and Fourth District Board Member Graylin Ward is being challenged by Linda Menk.

There will be several races on the Republican Party ballot, and a few on the Democratic Party ballot as well.

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal is being challenged by John Barge and David Pennington.

Congressman Lynn Westmoreland, who represents the third district and lives near Grantville, is being challenged by Chip Flanegan.

There are nine Republican candidates for the state school superintendent post being vacated by Barge: Allen Fort, Ashley Bell, Kira Willis, Mary Kay Bacallao, Mike Buck, Nancy Jester, Richard Woods, Sharyl Dawes and Fitz Johnson.

There are several Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Saxby Chambliss: Paul Broun, Karen Handel, Phil Gingrey, Jack Kingston, Derrick Grayson, David Perdue and Art Gardner.

Four Democrats are running for the U.S. Senate seat: Rad Radulovacki, Michelle Nunn, Steen Miles and Todd Robinson.

And there are six Democrats running for school superintendent: Alisha Morgan, Jurita Mays, Denise Freeman, Rita Robinzine, Tarnisha Dent and Valarie Wilson.

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