Moultrie Observer

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January 7, 2013

Turnout a concern in special election

MOULTRIE — How few people can decide an election? We may find out Tuesday.

Voters in Georgia’s Senate District 11 — which includes all of Colquitt, Decatur, Early, Grady, Miller and Seminole counties and portions of Mitchell and Thomas counties — will choose a replacement for John Bulloch, the longtime legislator who resigned in December.

Six people qualified the week of Dec. 12 to run for Bulloch’s seat:

• Marshall Berman, 73, of Thomasville, a Republican, is retired from the Department of Labor.

• Dean Burke, 55, of Bainbridge, a Republican, is a physician.

• Brad Hughes, 35, of Blakely, a Republican, is self-employed.

• Mike Keown, 58, of Coolidge, a Republican, is a minister.

• Eugene McNease, 70, of Thomasville, a Republican, is retired.

• Jeffrey G. Bivins, 43, of Cairo, a Libertarian, works at Armor Clad Industries, LLC.

Lisa Collins of Blakely, Early County’s director of economic development, qualified Dec. 12 to run as a Democrat for the seat, but has since withdrawn, according to the Bainbridge Post-Searchlight.

Voting will be held in regular polling places, Colquitt County Probate Judge and Election Supervisor Wes Lewis said Monday. Wherever you go to vote in a primary or general election is where you’ll vote Tuesday. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The senate race is the only item on the ballot, Lewis said, and that may contribute to low voter turnout. Special elections usually don’t have a heavy voter response, he said. But predicted mild weather and the number of candidates might encourage participation.

“You never know what all the factors are going to be,” he said.

Early voting was held Dec. 26-28 and Jan. 2-4; 235 voters took advantage of it.

Although five candidates are running as Republicans and one as a Libertarian, all voters in the election can choose any one of them; there is no party primary in this election. The number of candidates does, however, raise the possibility of a runoff.

If one candidate receives more than half the votes (50 percent plus one vote), he will be the winner and will be sworn in as quickly as the votes are confirmed, Lewis said. But if no candidate gets that majority vote, the top two candidates will face each other in a runoff Feb. 5.

The legislative session will begin Jan. 14, with or without a senator from District 11.

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