Important elections just around the corner, here’s what you need to know

Published 6:34 pm Friday, January 22, 2016

The year 2016 is shaping up to hold many important elections, both on a national level, state level and right here in Decatur County.

On May 24, the Primary/General Nonpartisan election will be held. Candidates can begin qualifying for those offices on Monday, March 7, beginning at 9 a.m. Qualifying closes on Friday, March 11, at noon.

Thirteen local offices are up for reelection, including county commissioners from districts 2, 3 and 5, Board of Education members from districts 1, 3 and 5, coroner, chief magistrate, sheriff, clerk of court, tax commissioner, state court judge and probate judge.

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The Board of Education members, chief magistrate, state court judge and probation judge are non-partisan races. Candidates seeking to run for these offices will qualify at the Board of Elections office.

The county commissioners, coroner, sheriff, clerk of court and tax commissioner are partisan offices. Candidates seeking these offices will need to decide if they will run as a Democrat or Republican and then qualify with that respective political party.

Candidate seeking to run for Superior Court judge, district attorney and for General Assembly seats must qualify in Atlanta.

Decatur County Chief Elections Official Carol Heard urged residents to come out to the polls and place their vote.

“It’s a right we have that so many of us don’t exercise,” Heard said. “It’s our way of hiring who will decide the future of our community and country.

On March 1, Georgia will join six other states in voting for the next U.S. President.

Known as the SEC Primary, the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia will hold presidential preference primaries on that day with more than 1,000 national political convention delegates up for grabs.

The deadline to register to vote in the Presidential Preference Primary is Monday, Feb. 1.

Voters may check their status by going to the Georgia Secretary of State’s My Voter Page ( There, voters may change their address, check the location of their polling place or request an absentee mail-in ballot.

Advance in-person voting for the Presidential Preference Primary will take place from Monday, Feb. 8, through Friday, Feb. 19, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; on Saturday, Feb. 20, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and, from Monday, Feb. 22, through Friday, Feb. 26, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Locations for advance voting are the Fairgrounds, located at 1211 Vada Road in Bainbridge and the Courthouse Annex, located at 122 W. Water St., which is across the street from the Firehouse Center and Gallery. The Fairgrounds is set up to handle more voters with more voting machines and poll workers than the Courthouse Annex is, which is where the office of the Board of Elections is located.

Advance in-person voting allows voters more flexibility and allows them to vote without having to go to their specific precinct.

On Election Day, voters should go to the precinct in which they are registered.

Decatur County has nine precincts:

• Attapulgus, 405 E. Griffin Ave., the Attapulgus Community Center;

• Brinson, 179 Clifton St., the Brinson Municipal Building;

• Climax, 402 W. Lee St., the Climax Volunteer Fire Department;

• Coliseum, 600 Wheat Ave., the Decatur County Memorial Coliseum;

• Fairgrounds, 1211 Vada Road, the old Chamber 1 building;

• Kendrick, 2931 Spring Creek Road, the Kendrick Volunteer Fire Department;

• Mount Pleasant, 119 Deese Road, the Mount Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department;

• Recovery, 164 River Road, the Recovery Volunteer Fire Department; and,

• West Bainbridge, 1417 Dothan Road, the old West Bainbridge Middle School in the entrance to the right of the old gym.

Since this is a primary, voters will need to specify which ballot they want – a Democratic or Republican ballot.

Candidates on the Democratic ballot for the March 1 election are the following: Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders and Michael Steinberg.

Candidates on the Republican ballot are the following: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, John R. Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum and Donald J. Trump.

Voters must present an authorized photo ID before they can vote.

If you need a Voter Identification Card, you may obtain one at the Board of Elections office. Various forms of identification are necessary to obtain a Voter Identification Card, so please call ahead to ensure you have the correct information prior to coming in. If you do not have a valid Georgia’s Driver’s License, the Elections Office cannot issue a Voter Identification Card.

If you have any questions, want to register to vote or request an absentee ballot, the Decatur County Board of Elections and Registration’s office can assist you. It is located at 122 W. Water St. The telephone number is 243-2087.