May 29—ALBANY — A six-way race for a seat on the Dougherty County School Board is heading toward the finish line, with two more weeks of early voting ahead of the June 15 special election.
The six candidates are vying to fill the unexpired term in District 2 of Milton "June Bug" Griffin, who died in February. The term ends in December 2022.
The candidates who qualified are Gary Ball Sr., Kenneth Florence, Norma Kay Gaines-Heath, Julian Hall, Alma G. Noble and Debra Trice Wiley.
The first week of early voting was less than overwhelming, with turnout in the single digits on Tuesday when six people showed up to cast ballots. On Monday, the first day advance in-person voting was open, and on Wednesday 19 ballots were cast each day.
Early voting extends through June 11 at the Flint River Resource Center on Pine Avenue, with the exception of the Memorial Day holiday. Voting hours are 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Voters also may drop off absentee ballots at the 222 Pine Ave. voter registration office located in the Dougherty County Government Center during the same hours early voting is open.
'We're hopeful," Dougherty County Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said of strong participation for the remainder of the early voting period and election day. "We try to get the crowd out for every election. Our hope is that everyone who is eligible to vote comes out to vote."
There are about 10,500 eligible voters in the board district. The six voting precincts for the election are 10, 11, 12, 18, 19 and 26, located at Alice Coachman Elementary School, Carver Teen Center, Morningside Elementary School, Radium Springs Middle School and Lamar Reese Elementary School.
Showing up at the correct precinct is more important than usual for the election because of changes in the state's voting laws passed earlier this year.
While much of the lengthy legislation will not go into effect until later this year, one provision will go into effect for the June 15 contest. Previously, voters who showed up at the wrong precinct were allowed to cast provisional ballots. While that is still the case, it applies between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Election Day only. Voters who cast a ballot during that time must sign an affidavit swearing they voted during that two-hour window, Nickerson said.
Such provisional ballots cast before 5 p.m. on Election Day will not be counted.
"It varies," Nickerson said of the number of voters who show up at a precinct other than the one assigned. "We didn't have a lot of out-of-precinct voters this past November."
No voting will be held on the day prior to the election, but Nickerson's office will accept absentee ballots at her office, and the drop box there will be available.
With six candidates in the race, there is the possibility of a runoff.
If necessary, the runoff election will be held between the two candidates who receive the most votes on July 13.