By Joel Hall
Advance voting for the 2008 presidential primary begins Jan. 28, and will continue through Feb. 1, from 8 a.m., to 7 p.m., at five locations across Clayton County.
Election officials urge Clayton residents to take advantage of advance voting to lessen the crowding during the Feb. 5, "Super Tuesday" balloting.
Before 2006, the historic Clayton County Courthouse was the county's only advance voting site, said Annie Bright, director of the board of elections. However, there are four additional sites now: Lee Headquarters Library in Jonesboro, Lovejoy Branch Library in Hampton, the Morrow Municipal Complex Community Room in Morrow, and the Frank Bailey Senior Center in Riverdale.
"This is going to be the first presidential election that we are going to include these additional advance voting sites," said Bright. "In the gubernatorial election, it worked out very well and we encourage voters to continue utilizing advance voting. It gives the voter an opportunity to vote before election day and to avoid standing in line."
Joan Rogers has worked as an election coordinator in the county for four years. She said peak hours before and after work are crowded, and advance voting alleviates the wait.
Rogers encouraged young voters to participate, but warned against wearing candidate paraphernalia, as it is prohibited.
In addition to determining delegates for presidential candidates in the two major political parties, local residents will decide a referendum on a new, six-year, $305 million Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).
Funds generated from the proposed SPLOST are earmarked for a new Juvenile Justice Center, three additional police precincts, two new libraries, and a new multi-purpose Fire Department training center, among other public safety improvements.
A "yes" vote will ensure a continuous stream of one-cent tax collections from the 2003 SPLOST, which focused on recreational improvements.
Henry County, however, residents passed their SPLOST program in November 2007. County officials are expecting a $300 million return from the program.
Now voters are facing a new decision. They are mulling over who they should choose in the presidential primary.
Early voting for the Feb. 5 presidential primary in Henry County also begins on Jan. 28, and lasts until Feb. 1. Four locations around Henry County will be open from 7 a.m., to 7 p.m., to serve residents.
Elected officials in Henry County believe that early voting is a good thing and it helps voters save time. McDonough Councilman Monta Brown believes that this year's voter turnout could resemble the 2004 presidential race.
"In the 2004 presidential election, people were standing in line after work and rushing to cast their votes. Early voting will allow you to beat the crowd," he said.
Brown said although he is a Republican, he does not vote on party lines, and this year's presidential race has caught his attention on both sides of the spectrum.
"I'm interested in the whole race. This year, there has been a lot more attention focused on the Democratic candidates," said Brown, who likes John McCain but hopes that his administration will not be a repeat from the past. "If so, it may cause me to vote Democratic."
District II Commissioner Elizabeth "BJ" Mathis said her favorite candidate is Mike Huckabee, because his values reflect her own.
"I feel that he will represent those values well as president," said Mathis, who does not follow the presidential debates. "I think that they are a little skewed. I like to go on web sites to observe and learn about the candidates," she said.
Many presidential choices will be listed for both Democrats and Republicans.
On this year's Georgia Democratic ballot -- in the order they appear -- are Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis J. Kucinich, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson. Biden, Dodd, Kucinich, and Richardson have dropped out of the running, but still will be listed.
On the Republican ticket are Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Alan Keyes, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo, and Fred Thompson. Hunter, Tancredo, and Thompson have dropped out of the race.
Clayton County Advance Voting Sites:
· Elections and Registration Office
121 S. McDonough Street
· Lee Headquarters Library
865 Battle Creek Road
· Lovejoy Branch Library
1721 McDonough Road
· Morrow Municipal Complex (Community Room)
1500 Morrow Road
· Frank Bailey Senior Center
6213 Riverdale Road
Henry County Advance Voting Sites:
· Elections and Registration office
66 Veterans Drive, McDonough.
· Berea Christian Church
37 Woolsey Road, Hampton.
· Locust Grove Community Room (behind city hall)
3644 Ga highway 42, Locust Grove.
· Stockbridge Presbyterian Church
4740 N. Henry Blvd., Stockbridge.