By Joel Hall
Today will be the last day before the July 15 primary, in which voters with disabilities, accelerated age, out-of-state commitments, or other acceptable reasons will be allowed to vote early at the Clayton County Elections and Registration office in Jonesboro.
Early voting is available to citizens 75 years or older, the disabled, active-duty servicemen, election officials, and those who will be out of their precinct for any reason on election day.
Voters can also choose to mail in their ballot by calling the Elections and Registration office to request an application. Afterward, an application is sent, and once completed and sent back to the office, a ballot will be sent.
Next Monday, advance voting will open to the public, regardless of circumstance, at six locations around the county.
Advance voting for the primary will take place Monday-Friday, from 8 a.m., to 7 p.m. The locations will be The Elections and Registration office, 121 South McDonough Street in Jonesboro, inside the Historic Clayton County Courthouse; Lee Headquarters Library at 858 Battle Creek Road in Jonesboro; Lovejoy Branch Library at 1721 McDonough Road in Hampton; the Morrow Municipal Complex Community Room at 1500 Morrow Road in Morrow, Frank Bailey Senior Center at 6213 Riverdale Road in Riverdale; and the Carl Rhodenizer Recreation Center at 3499 Rex Road in Rex.
Allison Ruotolo, an elections and registration official, said the county is trying to give citizens every opportunity to vote early in order to alleviate lines, in what is expected to be an unprecedented election-day turnout.
"Right now, you need a reason [to vote in advance] and next week you don't," said Ruotolo. "If you don't use those two options, then you have to go to your precinct on election day.
"When anybody comes into the office, we take the time to educate them about advance voting," Ruotolo continued. "Advance voting really cuts down on the lines ... that's what it's supposed to do."
According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2006 estimate, Clayton County has a population of approximately 271,000 people. Ruotolo said that as of July 1, the county has 136,903 registered voters -- just over 50 percent of the total population.
The last day a mail-in ballot application can be requested is July 11 and completed ballots must be received by the Elections and Registration office by the close of the polls on July 15.
"We just want to give everybody every opportunity to come and vote," said Ruotolo. "It's so important. I hate to say that people don't have a reason not to vote, but we have a lot of opportunities out there."