Photo by Curt Yeomans
Clayton County residents vote early for the state primary election Friday at the Clayton County Elections and Registration Office in Jonesboro. County elections officials said 705 people voted during the first week of early voting.
JONESBORO — Less than 1 percent of Clayton County voters have cast ballots during the first week of early voting for this month’s state primary election.
Clayton County elections officials said 705 of the county’s 150,399 registered voters had cast ballots by mid-afternoon Friday. That amounts to a 0.46 percent voter turnout so far for an election where three out of five county commissioner seats and two of the county’s top law enforcement positions are contested.
County Elections and Registration Director Annie Bright said Friday that her office saw a “steady flow” of voters come by in the first week of early voting. However, she also said the turnout so far was “below expectations” for this election.
“I don’t make voter-turnout predictions for any election, but I did think we’d see more people by now,” said Bright.
More than one-quarter of early voters cast ballots on the first day of early voting, said Bright. She said it is possible that voter turnout will pickup as early voting continues. There are still two more weeks of early voting left, as well as Saturday voting on July 21 and advance voting during the week of July 23.
“Hopefully, the turnout will increase during the next two weeks,” Bright said in an e-mail to the Clayton News Daily.
Later, at the elections office, she said the county could see a large wave of voters on the Saturday voting date.
Voters are being asked to choose a county Commission chairman, Commission districts 2 and 3 representatives, a sheriff, a district attorney, eight state legislators and a U.S. congressman during the primary. They are also being asked to vote “Yea” or “Nay” on a proposed regional one-cent transportation sales tax that would fund transportation projects across metro Atlanta for the next 10 years.
The turnout in Clayton County trails the turnout seen next door in Henry County. Henry County, which has more than 10,000 fewer registered voters than Clayton County, had 685 voters cast ballots in the first two days of early voting alone, according to a published report in the Henry Daily Herald, a sister publication of the Clayton News Daily.
Clayton County saw a 21-percent voter turnout for the state primary in 2008, when the same offices up for election this year were last on the ballot. However, the 2008 primary election also had several more contested county-level offices on its ballot, including seven Clayton County Board of Education seats, solicitor general and clerk of courts.
Several community leaders, including then-Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent John Thompson, criticized the 2008 turnout at the time as being too low.
Residents can cast early voting ballots at the Historic Clayton County Courthouse, at 121 McDonough Street, in Jonesboro.