Two more Lee candidates qualify

LEESBURG, Ga. -- As two more candidates officially completed qualifying requirements Thursday, Lee County officials worried that hundreds of registered voters might run into problems when polls open July 31 for general primaries.

Stacks of postcard-sized yellow voter registration precinct cards have poured into the county's Elections and Registration office over the past few days, marked by the U.S. Postal Service as undeliverable, most for insufficient address. Lee Elections Superviser Veronica Johnson said citizens who have not received the precinct cards should call the elections office at (229) 759-6002 to avoid election-day confusion.

"A lot of people think when they update their address with the Postal Service that we get that information," Johnson said. "We don't. So we're trying to take a proactive approach to help alleviate frustration on election day."

As expected, former Lee sheriff's deputy David Cheshire became an official candidate to challenge his former boss, Sheriff Reggie Rachals, on Thursday, while incumbent Tax Commissioner Susan Smith also qualified. Both registered as Republicans.

"I came into the office four years ago completely green, figuring it would take about a year to grasp everything I needed to know," Smith said after qualifying for re-election. "But I quickly discovered there was a lot to learn. In fact, you never stop learning.

"I'm more comfortable now, and I look forward to focusing my attention on the updates and changes that are coming to the office this year."

Smith was at the center of a controversy that landed in the Georgia Supreme Court when she refused to comply with an ordinance that would have required county solid waste fees to be tacked on to ad valorem tax bills. The county challenged her stance and won a Superior Court ruling, which Smith appealed. That case was pending when the County Commission rescinded the ordinance.

Republican Party Chairman Mike Sabot said Thursday a nonbinding question relating to that issue would be on GOP primary ballots. The question reads: "Should Lee County place any fee, such as the monthly garbage fee, on the annual Property Tax bill?"

Democratic Party Chairman Trish Batten previously said a similar question would be on Democratic primary ballots.

Johnson, meanwhile, said that her office worked to make sure physical voting locations did not change for any of the county's registered voters, leaving some precincts with as many as three different commission districts, but said voters still need to make sure they are aware of their correct commission and Board of Education districts.

"Getting the correct addresses affects the ballots that our office orders," she said. "We ask anyone who has not gotten their voter registration precinct cards or has incorrect information on the card they received to please contact our office. We want to get as many of these corrected as soon as we can to cut down on confusion during the election."

The third and final day of qualifying runs from 9 a.m. to noon today.