By Johnny Jackson
Election officials are telling voters to be prepared to stand and wait in long lines for the Nov. 4 General Elections. That, or try early voting, or advance absentee voting. Absentee voting begins Monday. Early voting begins in late October.
"We're trying to avoid long lines by encouraging voters to go to the advance voting sites," said Annie Bright, director of Clayton County Elections. "We encourage our voters to come out and take advantage of early voting."
Locally, some officials are expecting as much as a 90 percent voter turnout this election. Statewide, thousands are mobilizing to vote in this year's historic presidential race.
"Each day, we're putting in about 800-1,000 [new registrations]," Bright said. In Henry, there are 700 voter registration applications processed daily.
As of Sept. 1, Henry reported having about 118,000 registered voters. At that same time, Clayton had about 140,000.
"I think we're preparing for a 90 percent voter turnout," said Janet Shellnut, director of Henry County Elections. "As many that can vote early, it's that many that we don't have to worry about on election day."
To bypass the potential backlog at the polls, voters are being encouraged to use early voting or advance voting.
Clayton's registrar's office hours, during the work week, are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., for early voting, which starts on Monday. It is open 8 a.m. -7 p.m., for advance voting, which occurs in late October.
Henry's registrar's office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., for early voting, and 7 a.m. -7 p.m., for advance voting.
For information about where to vote in early and advance voting, visit the county registrar's office's web site. Also, elections officials encourage voters to double check their voter registration status by visiting the web sites, or calling their county office before the Oct. 6 voter registration deadline.
"If everybody can be as prepared as they can be on election day, it will help us out," added Shellnut. "There is no coming back to recast your vote."
Several federal, state and local issues - including constitutional amendments - will be included on this year's General Election ballots, which means there will be varying ballots at most county precincts.
Clayton, for instance, will have a total of 38 different ballot styles. Henry has 23 different ballot styles this year.
Additionally, all absentee ballot voting can be done by mail. Voters can request an absentee ballot from their county registrar by submitting an application that can be found on the Secretary of State Office's web site.
On Nov. 4, polls will open from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m., but any voter who is waiting in line at 7 p.m., will be allowed to vote. Voters are also encouraged to avoid peak voting hours: 7 - 9:30 a.m.; 4:30 - 7 p.m.; and during the midday lunch hour.
On the net:
Clayton Elections: www.co.clayton.ga.us/brd_elections_registration
Henry Elections: www.co.henry.ga.us/Registrars
Secretary of State: http://sos.georgia.gov/elections