Dougherty Co. starting early voting Monday

Dougherty Co. starting early voting Monday
Published: Nov. 27, 2022 at 9:02 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 27, 2022 at 9:11 PM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Voting for the Georgia Senate Runoff has begun.

A total of 27 counties in the Peach State have early voters taking advantage of the extra day to vote this weekend.

For other counties, early voting begins Monday, including Dougherty county.

Bennie Hand, a county elections board member, said this year’s turnout was much lower than he expected even in a midterm year.

On Nov. 8, 47% of people in Dougherty County who could vote did vote according to Hand.

“Dougherty had a lower turnout than surrounding counties. As a matter of fact, Dougherty County ranked in the bottom in the lower half of the counties in the state,” He said.

He said people didn’t need to vote in the midterm election to be able to vote this time around, but instead just needed to be registered and have an ID when going to vote.

Hand added that he has seen years with a 60% turnout. This year, there are a few different factors at play.

Dougherty County voters are starting to feel that voter fatigue, but are still encouraging others to vote.

Dougherty County had a bottom 5 voter participation rate in 2022
Dougherty County had a bottom 5 voter participation rate in 2022(WALB)

“Post COVID, people have different priorities,” Tim Wesselman, the Democratic committee public affairs representative said.

“And Voter Fatigue. All of the commercials. All of the radio ads. It’s wearing people out people really just want it to be over,” Hand added.

he says there was great participation last runoff in 2021.

“It was tremendous to tell you the truth. The turnout to the race was equal to return out for the general election,” Hand said.

Senate control was on the line that year, so that may have been an extra boost for voters. That isn’t the case this year with the control already in Democrats’ hands.

James Williams (left), Bennie Hand (center) Tim Wesselman (right)
James Williams (left), Bennie Hand (center) Tim Wesselman (right)(WALB)

Wesselman and other Democratic Party leaders in Dougherty County say they want more opportunities to vote early. They think this will increase voter turnout. Roughly 50% of people who voted in the general election, voted early.

“There were some counties that had early voting. They had pictures of people in lines to vote early. I know those counties that offered it had voters who took advantage of it,” Wesselman said.

Wesselman also said clarification in new rules of when to vote is important. He and others saw voters at the Civic Center

Tracy Taylor, the Republican Party Chairman in Dougherty County, thinks the opportunities to vote are adequate. He said turnout is more about the candidates that bring people out to vote.

“I think it’s a very fair opportunity. We had record numbers of people come out during the primaries. I’m very confident voters will have the time to cast their ballots in a sufficient amount of time,” Taylor said.

To check out early voting opportunities in your county, click here.