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Early voting nearly over; Sunday turnout 'exceeds expectations'

The general elections are a week away, but Liberty Countians have been casting ballots since Oct. 13 at two polling locations.

Residents can go to the old Liberty County Courthouse in Hinesville or the East End Community Complex in Midway between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to cast their votes ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections. Early voting continues through Friday.

While it’s early to tabulate overall early voting statistics, the numbers for last Saturday and Sunday “exceeded expectations,” according to Liberty County Chief Registrar/Elections Supervisor Ella Golden.

On Saturday, when the two polling sites were open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Midway reported 25 voters while Hinesville recorded 62. Sunday, between noon-5 p.m., 43 voters turned out to Midway, while 189 ballots were cast in Hinesville.

As previously reported in the Courier, this election includes a referendum for the continuation of a 1-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, commonly called SPLOST. The proposed SPLOST would run for six years and generate an estimated $54 million.

Other local races include County Commission seats for Districts 1, 2 and 3, which currently are held by Marion Stevens, Justin Frasier and Connie Thrift, respectively. All three commissioners are running unopposed.

There also are two proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot — one asking, “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to prohibit the General Assembly from increasing the maximum state income-tax rate?” and another asking whether the state constitution should be changed to “allow additional reckless-driving penalties or fees to be added to the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund” to pay for care for residents who’ve survived brain trauma through injuries to the head or spine.

There also is a proposed statewide referendum on allowing property owned by the University System of Georgia and used by “providers of college and university student housing and other facilities” to remain tax-exempt “to keep costs affordable.”

And there are some contested races at the federal and state levels. Among contests voters are asked to decide in the general elections are whether Democrat Michelle Nunn or Republican David Perdue will succeed longtime Sen. Saxby Chambliss in the U.S. Senate and who will take longtime Rep. Jack Kingston’s seat in the U.S. House after the veteran Congressman announced he would instead run for Chambliss’ seat.

Democrat Brian Corwin Reese of Savannah, who outpolled Richmond Hill real-estate agent Amy Tavio in the Democratic-primary runoff, and Republican Buddy Carter, a longtime state lawmaker from Pooler, are vying for the District 1 post vacated by Kingston.

Statewide races include the gubernatorial race featuring Republican incumbent Nathan Deal, Democratic challenger Jason Carter — former President Jimmy Carter’s grandson — and Libertarian Andrew Hunt. There also are contests among candidates seeking a host of seats at the state level, ranging from lieutenant governor to state school superintendent to commissioners of agriculture, insurance and labor.

Voters must have a form of photo identification with them at the polls. Sample ballots, which ran in last Sunday’s Courier, can be obtained at — or simply look up “Georgia My Voter Page” through a search engine. Voters also can request an absentee ballot online or by going to the voter registration office at either the courthouse or the community complex.

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