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Early voting begins in Clayton County

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Early voting in Clayton County began Monday at the Elections and Registration Office inside the Historic Clayton County Courthouse, and 423 voters launched the effort.

"It's kind of a monumental election," said Kamardi Carter, a senior election registration official. "This is the first time the state has implemented no-reason voting 45 days prior to the Nov. 4, presidential election.

"It's made things easier," Carter said. "The precincts won't be so crowed on election day.

Presently, the Elections and Registration Office in Jonesboro is the only early voting location in Clayton County. Early voting will take place there until Oct. 24, from 8 a.m., to 5 p.m.

"It's so nice, because it gives the voter an opportunity to vote before the election," said Annie Bright, director of the Clayton Board of Elections. "Hopefully, it will cut down on the lines."

While early voting is taking place, registered voters can also vote by mailing in an absentee ballot. Voters will be able to do so until Oct. 31.

Advance voting will take place at six locations around the county, Oct. 27-31. The six sites for the November general election will be the Elections and Registration Office in Jonesboro; the Carl Rhodenizer Recreation Center in Rex; the Lee Headquarters Library in Jonesboro; the Lovejoy Branch Library in Lovejoy; the Morrow Municipal Complex in Morrow; and the Frank Bailey Senior Center.

Bright said while advance voting will end on Oct. 31, residents have only until Oct. 6, to register and vote. As of Sept. 1, Clayton's voter rolls totaled 139,936 voters, a little more than 50 percent of the total population, according to 2007 U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

Bright said voters should abide by state laws, which prohibit people from campaigning or wearing campaign paraphernalia within 150 feet of a polling place.

"We have only had one person who had come in with a shirt," said Bright. "They cannot wear campaign materials in a polling place. We will ask them to remove it or cover it up, because it's the law."

For more information on voting, visit the Georgia Secretary of State 's web site: www.sos.georgia.gov, or call the Clayton County Elections and Registration Office at (770) 477-3372.