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Early presidential voting has ‘light’ start

A wide-open field of Republican presidential candidates has not translated into long lines at the Clayton County Elections and Registration Office, according to the county’s top elections official.

Annie Bright, Clayton County’s director of elections and registration, said early that only 20 people have, so far, cast ballots in early voting for the Georgia’s Democratic and Republican presidential primaries.

The turnout is a far cry from the early voting period for the 2008 general presidential election, when long lines of voters waited to cast their ballots.

“The turnout was very light [on the first day of early voting],” said Bright, in a written statement. Early voting began Monday in polling headquarters across the state for the primary set for March 6, as part of the “Super Tuesday” group of 10 state primaries, and caucuses.

Early voting in Clayton County is taking place at the county’s Elections and Registration Office, located at 121 South McDonough St., in Jonesboro. Residents may cast votes Mondays, through Fridays, from 8 a.m., to 5 p.m.

President Barack Obama is the only candidate who has qualified to run in the state’s Democratic Primary. The Republican Primary will technically have a field of nine candidates on the ballot, although several have already dropped their bids to be president.

Those slated to appear on Republican Primary ballots, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, include: Michele Bachmann; Newt Gingrich; Jon Huntsman; Gary Johnson; Ron Paul; Rick Perry; Buddy Roemer; Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. Georgia has 76 Republican National Convention delegates up for grabs, according to the state Republican Party’s web site.

The early breakdown of Clayton votes that have been cast is 14 ballots cast in the Republican primary, and six ballots cast in the Democratic primary, according to Bright. She added that 82 voters have, so far, cast absentee ballots, including 50 Republican ballots, and 32 Democratic ballots.

Bright said Clayton County has 147,143 registered voters, eligible to vote in the primaries next month. For now, she is taking a wait-and-see approach in regards to turnout. “We always like to see large voter turnouts during all elections,” she said.

Clayton County had a 39.9 percent voter turnout for the presidential primaries in 2008, when the Democratic and Republican parties both had multiple candidates seeking their respective nominations.

Obama won 81.97 percent of the Clayton County votes that year in the Democratic primary, and Romney finished second behind Mike Huckabee, with 28.44 percent of the votes cast.

A statewide Saturday voting date has been set for Feb. 25. Clayton County voters will be able to go to the county elections office, from 9 a.m., to 4 p.m., to cast their ballots, according to Bright.

Advance voting is scheduled to take place Feb. 27, through March 2, from 8 a.m., to 7 p.m., at the county elections office, as well as the Morrow Municipal Complex, located at 1500 Morrow Road, in Morrow; the Clayton County Library Headquarters branch, 865 Battle Creek Road, in Jonesboro; the Frank Bailey Senior Center, 6213 Riverdale Road, in Riverdale; the Lovejoy Library Branch, 1721 McDonough Road, in Hampton, and the Carl Rhodenizer Recreation Center, 3499 Rex Road, in Rex.

Call (770) 477-3372, or go online, to the county’s election’s web site, www.claytoncountyga.gov/departments/elections-and-registration/, for more information.