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Early Voting update
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AFTER LEARNING that Early Voting for the Nov. 4 general election started this week, I woke up Monday morning intending to add a stop at the Eisenhower Drive Voter Registration Office to my list of the day’s errands.

This election is the first to operate under new, less restrictive Early Voting rules, says Randolph Bridges, Assistant Director of Voter Registration for Chatham County, the office that handles early voting. During the 2008 legislative session, the Georgia legislature passed Senate Bill 387, allowing registered voters to cast their ballots early without giving any reason for doing so.

Early Voting gave me hope that soon I would be finished with the email nuttiness that is swirling around the presidential election this year.

Each day my inbox receives a smattering of e-mails from people I know supporting both sides of the race. Photoshopped photos and fuzzy facts, candidate quotes taken out of context, distorted reports on candidates’ actions in prior office or employment, and the completely irrelevant fashion bashing. I don’t care what kind of lapel pin or hairstyle our leaders are sporting, thank you very much.

Earlier this month I replied to two of these emails—one on each side of the political fence. Each email I received contained egregiously inaccurate information, describing actions of the sender’s opposing candidate, and it seemed wrong to allow the bad data to go forward without rebuttal.

In each case, someone wrote back that even if the original information wasn’t true, it’s the sort of behavior that the “wrong” candidate probably would exhibit, so the misinformation really didn’t matter. That’s “logic” that seems beyond rebuttal.

So, this past Monday, I considered that perhaps the best way to kill the spam would be to send a blanket response: I’ve already voted.

Then I remembered that, in addition to the bid for president, a few other races are being decided in the November general election. Am I prepared today to be an informed voter on all these contests? Not even close.

In Chatham County 48 public offices are up for grabs this year in addition to the presidential race—from U.S. Senate to the County Surveyor. There’s also a special election for school board District 2 and three proposed amendments to Georgia’s constitution.

Many races are specific to certain districts, some were decided in the partisan primaries held this summer, and several incumbents are unopposed. Even with these factors narrowing the field, I’m still left with a lot of homework to do, if I’m going to make an educated choice in each race.

I’m concerned about utility bills and public transportation, yet I have no idea whom I’m supporting for vacant Public Service Commission seats.

Crime continues to seep through our community like a poison, yet I’ve paid little attention so far to the 16 different judgeship races that range from the local Recorder’s Court to the State Supreme Court.

Those constitutional amendments all have to do with taxes, but I haven’t yet tried to decipher their meanings or potential impacts.

Homework help is close at hand from the Chatham County Elections Board. This week, sample ballots will be online for voters to review, with information specific to each voter precinct, and will also be available at the Eisenhower Drive Elections office, next door to Voter Registration.

“They’re normally done well in advance, but the lateness of the conventions compressed the time frame this year,” says Russell Bridges, Chatham County Elections Supervisor. He noted that the Secretary of State’s office sent out the wording of the three proposed constitutional amendments late Friday afternoon for inclusion on the sample ballot beginning this week.

Studying that sample ballot will give me a good start on prepping for the big exam—the general election on November 4. If I get organized I may take advantage of Early Voting, but with so much at stake with this year’s many elections, I’ll probably need all the homework time I can get. cs

Early Voting is at the Voter Registration Main Office, 1117 Eisenhower Dr., Suite E, during normal office hours, Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. through Friday, Oct. 31, with extended hours at this site Oct. 4, 18, 21, 23 and 25. Advance Voting at three additional locations will be held Oct. 27–31. Call 912/790-1520 for more information.