Dougherty County Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson reminds potential voters that they have until April 21 to register and be eligible to vote in the May 20 primaries. (Herald photo: Carlton Fletcher)
ALBANY — Dougherty County Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson reminded potential voters that they have until April 21 to register if they want to cast ballots in the May 20 primaries.
Nickerson said the Elections office has received ballots for the primaries and is now preparing for early voting, which kicks off April 28.
“With state and local elections, there’s a lot going on during this election cycle,” Nickerson said. “We never try to encourage our citizens to vote for any particular candidate, but we do encourage them to vote. That’s why it’s important to get this information out to the public in a timely manner.”
Nickerson said early voting will be held in the Elections office (Room 220 of the downtown Government Center) Mondays-Fridays April 28-May 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and also at the 125 Pine Ave. Riverfront Resource Center Candy Room May 5-9 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday voting will be conducted at the Candy Room on May 10 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Voting times, Nickerson said, are determined by the state.
“It’s important for voters to remember that there will be party ballots during the primaries and any primary runoffs,” the Elections supervisor said. “Voters will be required to ask for a Republican, Democratic or nonpartisan ballot. It’s important that they remember that whatever party they vote for in the primary, they can only vote in that party’s runoffs.
“That’s important because if they want to vote for a candidate in a countywide race, for instance, they will have to ask for a Democratic ballot. All candidates for contested local (Dougherty County Commission and School Board) races are on the Democratic ballot.”
Nickerson said voters who ask for one party’s ballot but discover in the voting booth that they want to vote for a race on another party’s ballot may request to change ballots in the voting booth.
“They just need to raise their hands, and the precinct manager will cancel that (original) ballot,” she said. “They can then get the ballot of the party they want.”
Nickerson said all 28 county precincts will be open for the May 20 primaries, including the newly moved precinct at Albany State University. The Elections office has moved the 28th Precinct from ASU’s HPER Gymnasium to Lovett Hall adjacent to the Albany State football stadium.
“We’re going to try this new location because we need a more secure location,” she said. “The gym is a great place because we usually have a heavy turnout at Albany State, but it’s being utilized by students during the election, so we found a location that would allow us to set up and secure our voting equipment. The only concern we have is the size of Lovett Hall and the number of voters who come in.”
Nickerson said she wrote a letter to the federal Department of Justice informing the department of the change, although that is no longer a requirement.
The Elections office is also actively recruiting retirees or other interested persons who might want to become paid poll workers during the primaries. The retirements of four precinct managers and other clerks have left a number of positions open throughout the county.
“Training is a really simple process, so we encourage retirees and others in the community who want to get involved in the elections process to contact our office,” Nickerson said. “We consider our poll workers extremely vital to the elections process. Without them, our staff in the office wouldn’t be able to do what we do.
“There’s a quote I like a lot: ‘A poll worker is the last human being the voter encounters before he or she enters the voting booth to cast a vote. In many cases, a poll worker is the only official human representative of the electoral system ever met by the average individual voter.’ These folks are vital to the process.”
State law requires that a minimum of three workers be present at each open precinct during elections.
Persons interested in working at the polls should contact the Elections office at (229) 431-3247. Also, voters who wish to obtain an absentee ballot by mail can submit written applications to the Elections office at P.O. Box 1827, Albany 31702.