By Johnny Jackson
Early Voting for this year's general elections begins Monday, but elections officials are not expecting large numbers -- initially.
"During the presidential election, we voted 800 the first day out, and then, it didn't stop. It just grew steadily every day," said Janet Shellnutt, director of elections and registration in Henry County. "I don't think we'll do over a hundred a day the first week [this year]. I will be surprised if we do."
Shellnutt expects more voters will turn out as the election season progresses toward the Nov. 2, General Election, because many voters may still be undecided on ballot choices.
"Sometimes, people haven't made their minds up on candidates yet," she said. "But, by the last two weeks, we'll be slammed."
In Henry County, Early Voting will be available, weekdays from 8 a.m., until 5 p.m., at the Henry County Election and Registration Office, located at 345 Phillips Drive, in McDonough, until the Advance Voting period begins next month.
Shellnutt added that Henry County plans to open an additional satellite precinct for Early Voting two weeks prior to the General Election, Oct. 18-22. The Stockbridge Community Center satellite precinct, located at 130 Berry St., in Stockbridge, will be open from 7 a.m., until 7 p.m.
Voters in Clayton County will also be able to cast their Early Voting ballots, on weekdays from 8 a.m., until 5 p.m., -- at the Clayton County Elections and Registration Office, located at 121 S. McDonough St., in Jonesboro.
"Hopefully, there will be a good turnout," said Annie Bright, director of elections and registration in Clayton County.
Bright noted that the Early Voting process has been a benefit to both the county and its 147,303 eligible voters. "Early voting helps to cut back on hiring poll workers to work in the precincts on election day," said the elections director. "Early voting gives voters the opportunity to cast their ballots without having to go to the polls on election day."
Bright said voters should remember to have one of the six required photo identifications with them when they vote in person during Early Voting, or on election day.
Henry County's Shellnutt said she is encouraging the county's roughly 120,000 eligible voters to be prepared and informed about the long November ballot, particularly the constitutional amendments included on this year's ballot. She said sample ballots are already available online.
"I'm hoping people will be informed when they come to vote," Shellnutt said. "The more informed people are, the better it helps us get them through the lines. If you know who you're going to vote for, it should take only a couple of minutes."
Earlier this month, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced the release of the summaries of proposed general amendments to the Constitution of Georgia, and the state-wide referendum, which will be a part of the Nov. 2, General Election ballot.
Elections officials said the summaries of the constitutional amendments and the state-wide referendum are available in their entirety, through the Henry County Elections and Registration's and Secretary of State's web sites. Voters can find ballots for their specific districts by visiting the Secretary of State's My Voter Page (MVP) web site.
Voters also may obtain printed copies of the summaries by visiting the county elections and registration office, or by calling the Secretary of State's office at (404) 656-2871.
Georgia's Advance Voting will take place Oct. 25-29. Elections officials said there is no voting the Monday before the election.
Advance Voting will take place, from 8 a.m., until 7 p.m., in Clayton County -- at the Clayton County Elections and Registration Office, 121 S. McDonough St., in Jonesboro; at the Carl Rhodenizer Recreation Center, 3499 Rex Road, in Rex; at the Headquarters Library, 865 Battle Creek Road, in Jonesboro; at the Lovejoy Branch Library, 1721 McDonough Road, in Hampton; at the Morrow Municipal Complex (Community Room), 1500 Morrow Road, in Morrow; and at the Frank Bailey Senior Center, 6213 Riverdale Road, in Riverdale.
In Henry County, Advance Voting will be available, from 7 a.m., until 7 p.m. -- at the Henry County Elections and Registration Office, 345 Phillips Drive, in McDonough; at the Stockbridge Community Center, 130 Berry St., in Stockbridge; at the Fairview Library, 28 Austin Road, in Stockbridge; at the Locust Grove Recreation Center, 10 Cleveland St., in Locust Grove; and at the Hampton Train Depot, 17 East Main St., in Hampton.
On the net:
Henry County Elections and Registration: www.co.henry.ga.us/registrars.
Clayton County Elections and Registration: www.claytoncountyga.gov/departments/elections.
Georgia Secretary of State: www.sos.ga.gov/elections.