Published Sunday, November 04, 2012

Election Day 2012: Polls open to voters 7-7 Tuesday

By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL

sarah@newnan.com

(Note: The Cedar Creek precinct has not changed. Voters still go to the fire station at the four-way-stop at Tommy Lee Cook, Brimer, and Jim Starr Roads. An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the Greentop precinct as Cedar Creek.)

Tuesday is election day, and polling places across the county will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Voters must present an acceptable photo identification to vote on the electronic voting machines. Voters who forget their ID or do not have one can vote a provisional ballot. The voter will then have 48 hours to present acceptable ID to the Coweta County Voter Registration Office in order for their ballot to be counted.

The voter registration office, located at 22 East Broad Street in downtown Newnan, can provide free photo ID cards to anyone who doesn’t have a photo ID. Acceptable photo IDs include a Georgia driver’s license, even if expired, a valid passport, a Georgia ID, a tribal ID, a military ID, a Georgia Voter ID, a valid employee photo ID from any branch of federal, state or local government, or any other valid state or federally-issued photo ID.

Coweta elections officials urge voters to “know before you go.”

“Know where you vote before you go to vote,” said Coweta Elections Superintendent Jane Scoggins.

There are no new polling place locations this year, but there have been a few changes since the last presidential election.

The Greentop voting precinct is now located at Mills Chapel Baptist Church on U.S. 29, not in the Greentop Road fire station. The White Oak precinct is now located at the Hwy. 154 campus of Crossroads Church, in the “hanger” gym building, not at White Oak Elementary School. And the Turin precinct is now located at the new town hall building at the Walter B. Hill School, not in the community center.

The Cedar Creek precinct has not changed. Voters still go to the fire station at the four-way-stop at Tommy Lee Cook, Brimer, and Jim Starr Roads. An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the Greentop precinct as Cedar Creek.

There were no major changes caused by the recent redistricting, but a small number of Coweta voters may be in a new precinct.

“I really want them to double check and make sure they know where they vote,” Scoggins said.

The easiest way to check your polling place, along with your registration status, district info, and sample ballot, is on the Georgia Secretary of State’s My Voter Page, located at www.sos.georgia.gov/MVP .

“The My Voter Page is a great resource for Georgia citizens,” said Scoggins.

If you don’t have internet access, you can contact the Coweta County Voter Registration Office at 770-254-2615.

If you recently registered to vote, you may not have received your precinct card yet. But as long as you registered by the Oct. 9 deadline, you should be fine.

Elections officials have been busy getting ready for the election — and for election night.

“We are going to start counting the absentee by mail ballots early,” said Scoggins. In the past, the ballots couldn’t be opened until the polls closed at 7 p.m. But Scoggins sent in a request to the state to be allowed to start early, and it was granted.

The elections workers will be able to start opening, sorting, and counting the ballots at 3 p.m. But they will be sequestered in a secured room, and unable to leave. “If you went in there, you wouldn’t be able to come out,” Scoggins said. They’ll have access to a restroom and a kitchen.

Scoggins said she hopes that the workers will be able to start the actual counting of the ballots by around 5 p.m.

“We’ll probably have 3,500, and that will take them a little while. It just takes so long to run the tapes at the end,” Scoggins said.

This will be the second run of the state’s new election night reporting system. There will be a link on the county’s website, www.coweta.ga.us , to the election results.

One batch of votes will likely decide the local races — the early votes.

Following the end of early voting on Friday, Coweta Voter Registrar Joan Hamilton estimated a whopping 20,758 Cowetans cast their ballots during the three-week early voting period. That included 1,811 on Friday. At times on Friday, the line was wrapped around the county building all the way to the development and engineering offices on the north side, said Hamilton. Early voting ended at 4:30, though those in line at 4:30 could vote. Everybody was headed home by about 5:15, Hamilton said.

The early voting turnout didn’t quite meet the 2008 total of 23,542. But that was with a 45-day early voting period, said Hamilton, not the current 17-day period.

With the early votes and the paper ballots by mail, more people have already voted in this election than the total number of voters in the July 31 primary and TSPLOST election.

Speaking of paper absentee ballots, time is running out to get them turned in. They must be in the voter registration office, located at 22 East Broad Street, Newnan, by 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Ballots can be mailed in or hand-delivered. Disabled voters, or those over age 75, can have a family member deliver their ballots. Everybody else must deliver the ballot in person.

There are seven issues on the ballot. All Cowetans (and all Georgians) get to vote on the president of the United States, two seats on the Georgia Public Service Commission, and two constitutional amendments. One amendment deals with the right of the state to approve and fund charter schools, and the other would let certain state agencies enter into multiyear property leases, instead of having to sign single-year agreements.

Two other local races are for the Fifth District seat on the Coweta County Board of Commissioners and the District 132 seat in the Georgia House of Representatives.

Commissioner Al Smith, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican Hayden Marlowe. And 20-year House member Carl Von Epps, a Democrat from LaGrange, is being challenged by Republican Gene King of Meriwether County.

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