MOULTRIE, Ga. — The 2020 election season is in overtime, but the clock will soon run out.
Voters will head to their local polling sites between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5, to cast ballots in three statewide runoff elections:
• First-term Sen. David Perdue, a Republican, and Democrat Jon Ossoff were the top two vote-getters in a three-way race Nov. 3 that included Libertarian Shane Hazel.
• Sen. Kelly Loeffler, also a Republican, faces the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, following a special election Nov. 3 with a huge field of candidates. Loeffler was appointed to her current position by Gov. Brian Kemp after Sen. Johnny Isakson resigned for health reasons Dec. 31, 2019. She and Warnock are running for voters’ approval to finish the rest of Isakson’s term, which ends in 2022.
• Republican Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, an incumbent member of the Georgia Public Service Commission, faces Democrat Daniel Blackman. They were the two highest vote-getters Nov. 3 in a race that included Libertarian Nathan Wilson.
Early voting was held Dec. 14-31, and both at the state and local levels, turnout was phenomenal. More than 3 million Georgians voted early, according to online resources. For perspective, when Sen. Saxby Chambliss and challenger Jim Martin held a runoff in 2008, the contest set a record for total votes cast in a Senate runoff in Georgia with 2 million.
Locally, 5,921 Colquitt Countians cast ballots in-person during early voting. County Registrar Paula McCollough described the turnout as “unheard-of” when voting began in mid-December, and she echoed that sentiment on Monday.
Despite that, McCollough said voting went very smoothly until the last day, when the computer system across the state slowed down considerably.
“It did it back in the November election too,” she recalled.
In addition to those in-person votes, 1,852 mail-in absentee ballots have been returned out of 2,783 that were mailed out. A recipient of an absentee ballot can get it canceled in order to cast his or her vote in person, and McCollough did not indicate whether that had happened to any of the remaining ballots. Absentee ballots must arrive at the Registrar’s Office by 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.
Similar to circumstances Nov. 3, The Moultrie Observer will have to go to press before voting concludes, so results will not be in Wednesday’s print edition. However, we will be covering the counting of votes and updating our website at www.moultrieobserver.com.