Apr. 24—ALBANY — After a busy 2020 for voters and elections officials, participating in a busy year of politics during a pandemic, 2021 promises to be much less hectic.
The off-year election in Dougherty County will involve only a small percentage of voters in Albany City Commission elections for Wards 2, 3 and 5 in November.
Closer at hand is a special election for the Dougherty County School Board's District 2 position left vacant with the death of long-time board member Mllton "June Bug" Griffin in February.
Six candidates are seeking to fill the unexpired term, which ends on Dec. 31, 2022, with the special election set for June 15. If a runoff is necessary, it will be held on July 13.
The candidates who qualified are Gary Ball Sr., Kenneth Florence, Norma Kay Gaines-Heath, Julian Hall, Alma G. Noble and Debra Trice Wiley.
Voters in precincts 10, 11, 12, 18, 19 and 26 are eligible to vote in the election. There are 10,503 registered voters in the district, Dougherty County Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said.
"We definitely want people to come out and participate," she said. "I encourage people to verify their voter information, (including) their address" ahead of the election.
For unregistered voters, the deadline to qualify to be eligible to vote is May 17.
The use of drop boxes, which were an emergency measure rolled out to help voters cast ballots more safely during the pandemic, will be restricted by a law passed earlier this year by the Georgia General Assembly.
For the presidential election last year, drop boxes were available at four locations around the city. Under the new law, each county may have one drop box per 100,000 in population, but all counties are required to have at least one.
With a population of about 88,000, Dougherty County will have one of the boxes. The law also restricts the locations where they may be placed.
"It must be inside," Nickerson said. "That change is effective immediately. It must be inside at the elections office or at the advance voting location."
In Dougherty County the drop box will be located at the early voting site on Pine Avenue. Voters may drop off ballots at that location during hours advance voting is open. Advance voting will run from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. May 24 through June 11, with polls closed May 31 for Memorial Day.
Previously, drop boxes, with video surveillance equipment placed to monitor them, were available around the clock through the close of voting on Election Day.
Lee County's drop box will be located at the downtown elections office, Lee County Elections Supervisor Veronica Johnson said. She predicted that some people will find them a convenience, while others prefer to physically hand the ballot to a person in the office.
"I think people don't realize we haven't had drop boxes but a short amount of time," she said. "That was just an emergency rule. It (law) does mandate them for every count."
In Lee County, the only elections on tap occur in the fall in Leesburg for mayor and Posts 1, 2 and 3, and in Smithville in Wards 3 and 4.
Also later in the year, election officials will begin the process of redistricting for the County Commission and School Board. Johnson said she expects to start that process after U.S. Census numbers become available.