HIAWASSEE, Ga – Towns County voters started casting their ballots on May 18 when early voting opened and noticed all the precautions in place to keep them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw stressed the importance of early voting, “I want to brag on our elections board. They’ve done a great job preparing for social separation…I do want you to get out and vote and early vote if possible that way on June the 9, maybe it won’t be too crowded.”
The Towns County Board of Elections and Registration instated a number of safety measures, including poll workers wearing masks and gloves, plexiglass separation, and limiting the number of people allowed in the lobby.
Also, they also spaced voting booths further apart to follow social distancing guidelines. Consequently, the extra space added additional voting privacy, which has been a concern in metro counties. Some voters claimed that the new system made it too easy for others to see who they voted for.
Early voting will last until June 5 with Saturday voting on May 30. The elections building opens at 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. until the cut-off date.
The Board of Elections installed an absentee ballot box outside the building for those choosing to go that route. Earlier in the year, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger mass-mailed absentee applications to Georgians before moving the election date to June 9.
Almost 1.5 million Georgians have submitted a request for absentee ballots for the upcoming election with over 1 million absentee ballots already sent out to Georgia voters. The states already received 400,000 absentee ballots.
Those who first applied for an absentee ballot and then decided to vote in-person must sign an affidavit to cancel their absentee ballot.
The Board of Elections and Registration Building and adjacent civic center will also serve as the central polling location in the county on June 9. All other polling locations will be closed because of COVID-19.
According to the Towns County GOP, “Due to a state of emergency and unavoidable circumstances that exist as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the office of the Towns County Board of Elections and the adjacent civic center shall serve as the single polling place for the June 09, 2020, primary and special election. This space is designated as it meets all requirements under State Election Board (SEB) rules and state law and requirements and accommodations for disabled electors; can be staffed by the current number of poll workers available; and can also be configured to meet the safety and social distancing protocols established for this election (O.C.G.A. § 21-2-265(a)(c)(d)(f)).”
Several races local races will be decided in the June 9 primary.
Towns County Sheriff
Jim Couch (R)
Linda Curtis (R)
Kenneth Henderson (R)
Lisa Joseph (R)
Darren Osborn (R)
Towns County Coroner
Tamela Cooper (R)
Harold Copeland (R)
Board of Education, Post 5
Steven Green (Non-partisan)
Caroleen Woods (Non-partisan)
State races on the ballot are
Georgia House of Representatives, District 8
Stan Gunter (R)
Steve Townsend (R)
Dale Cooper (D)
Georgia Senate, District 50
Andy Garrison (R)
Dan Gasaway (R)
Stacy Hall (R)
Bo Hatchett (R)
Tricia Hise (R)
Lee Moore (R)
Dee Daley (D)
Voters can expect to see more local races on the ballot, but these candidates face no competition.
SPLOST will also be up for renewal, which will keep the taxes at 7 percent. The money will be used to renovate the courthouse.
The Freeport Tax is also on the ballot. It’s a tax exemption for manufacturers of raw materials in the area. Bradshaw hopes it will create jobs in Towns County.