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'Cross-over' voting OK, but not in runoffs

If you are a Republican, and there is a Democrat you feel compelled to try to defeat, or if you're a Democrat, and there is a Republican you are determined to oust, election officials in Clayton and Henry counties say there is nothing to stop you in the July 20 primary elections.

Crossover voting, often discussed on political talk shows and during forums, is allowed in primaries, and the general election, but it is not allowed in the primary-runoff elections.

"In the runoffs, you have to stick with the same party you voted for in the primary," said Janet Shellnutt, Henry County Elections and Registration director.

In general elections, things are different. "Registered voters do not register by political parties in the state of Georgia," said Annie Bright, Clayton County's director of Elections and Registration. "[They] are required to select a political-party ballot during a primary election, [but] when voting in the general election, all the candidates are listed on the same ballot with the party affiliation next to their name," she said.

"The voter is allowed to mix their choices of candidates by party, during a general election."

Some voters do switch between political parties, Henry's Shellnutt agreed. "Sometimes, people cross over in July to vote particular candidates out. Right now [during the early voting period], in Henry County, we are currently voting four Republicans to one Democrat. This could change by election day," she said. "Since they are all on the ballot in November together, you cannot tell who crosses back and forth, except, maybe, by the numbers the candidates receive."

In Clayton, Democrats dominate public offices at all levels.

Shellnutt said crossover voters have more than two choices, only when alternative political party candidates are listed on the ballot. "The state of Georgia only recognizes the Democratic Party and the Republican Party," she said. "If you want to run as an Independent, Green Party, Libertarian, etc., you must collect five percent of the registered voters' signatures in the district that you are running for. Submit them to our office for verification, before [your] name can be placed on the ballot.

"By the time the November general election ballot is ready, all candidates are on one ballot," she continued. "You can vote Republican, Democrat, or any party that makes it to that ballot."