More than a quarter of Barrow County’s registered voters have already cast their ballots for the Nov. 3 general election, and the number of those who took advantage of early in-person voting during the first week was nearly three times higher than for the same time period in 2016 and 2018.
Barrow County has 55,582 active voters registered for the general election — up from 47,514 in 2018 and 37,213 in 2016 — and 14,588 had cast their ballots by the end of voting on Monday, Oct. 19, Monica Franklin, the county’s elections director, said. Of those, 5,525 had voted via absentee ballot, while 9,063 had shown up to the county elections office to vote over the first seven days. That was a “significant increase” from the same point in 2016, when 3,763 people had voted early, and 2018, when 3,500 had shown up, Franklin said.
With a sharply-divided and hotly-contested presidential campaign between top contenders President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, the 2020 election is expected to produce record-breaking numbers of voters — particularly in absentee ballots by mail, an option many more voters are taking advantage of as a precaution due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In Barrow County, the number of people who had voted via mail-in absentee ballot as of Monday (5,525) had already dwarfed the 2018 and 2016 absentee ballot totals (1,269 and 1,200, respectively).
Turnout for the last presidential election in 2016 was high in Barrow County (78.6 percent) and above the statewide mark of 76.5 percent. In 2018, 57.8 percent of the county’s voters cast their ballots, compared to 61.4 percent statewide.
The intense interest in the presidential race, along with both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats being up for grabs, should help offset some the lack of locally-contested races on the ballot in Barrow County. Voters in Bethlehem are selecting between three candidates for an open town council seat, while all county voters are choosing between Republican incumbent Frank Ginn and Democratic challenger Dawn Johnson for the state Senate District 47 seat. A chunk of voters in eastern Barrow are also deciding between Republican incumbent Houston Gaines and Democratic challenger Mokah Johnson.
Early voting continues through Friday, Oct. 30, at the county elections office, 233 East Broad St., Winder. Voting for the rest of the week will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24. Voting next week will be 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, Oct. 26-30.
Franklin said voting lines at the elections office have been “very smooth” so far, with most voters reporting 20- to 25-minute waits early in the morning and 10- to 15-minute waits or less in the afternoon.
Applications for absentee ballots are still being accepted, and ballots must be received by the elections office by 7 p.m. Nov. 3 when the polls close.
For election day polling locations, absentee ballot procedures and other information, you can go to barrowga.org/departments/elections-registration-main.aspx or mvp.sos.ga.gov.