Polls open for early voting in presidential primary

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

If you’re ready to cast your first vote in the 2016 presidential election, you can do it now.

With Georgia’s presidential preference primary scheduled for March 1, early in-person voting starts in a few days and the voter registration deadline has passed. Voters who wish to exercise their constitutional right as early as today, before the official New Hampshire primary date, can do so by using mail-in absentee ballots.

Georgia law allows for “no fault absentee voting” so registered voters can request a mail-in absentee ballot from their local elections office for any reason up to 45 days ahead of a federal election date.

“In Georgia, we have a very responsive system for the public that allows voters to cast their ballot at their convenience. This, paired with our Online Voter Registration website (OLVR), gives unprecedented access to the polls for Georgia voters,” Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp stated last week.

Voters can choose one of three ballots: Democratic, Republican or non-partisan. All three include the Henry County Board of Education’s referendum on a proposed $325 million bond issue and renewal of the E-SPLOST for five years and up to $225 million.

The following names are on the Republican presidential ballot: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, John Katich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum and Donald Trump.

The Democratic presidential ballot contains these names: Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders and Michael Steinberg.

Early in-person voting starts Monday at the county’s election headquarters, 40 Atlanta Street in McDonough (on the northwest corner of the Square across from the courthouse). The polls will be open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. each weekday next week.

A second polling place opens Feb. 15 at the Merle Manders Conference Center, 111 Davis Road in Stockbridge. Both locations will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday as well as special hours over the weekend: Saturday, Feb. 20, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 21, 1-5 p.m.

The week of Feb. 22-26, polls will be open 7 a.m-7 p.m. in McDonough and Stockbridge as well as the Fairview Library (28 Austin Road in Stockbridge), The Fortson Library (61 McDonough Street in Hampton), and the Locust Grove Library (115 Locust Grove-Griffin Road).

Any voter can visit the Secretary of State’s website (http://sos.ga.gov/) to find out the appropriate polling location by entering his or her name and address.