MOULTRIE -- Retiring Colquitt County Probate Judge and Elections Superintendent Aileen Gay is hoping voters will turn out in large numbers in Tuesday's runoff to determine her successor.
Historically, voter turnout is notoriously light with exception of a 2000 runoff where 40 percent of Colquitt County voters responded.
That election determined the Democratic candidates for sheriff between sitting Sheriff Al Whittington and candidate Paul Boyd and between current Superior Court Clerk Carolyn Brazel and Suzie Coleman, who served as interim clerk after Shirley Asbell retired. Both ran as Democrats.
For comparison, a 2002 runoff only brought out 9.5 percent of voters to determine the races for state schools superintendent, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and representative for the then newly-formed Georgia House District 137 between Rep. Ed Rynders, R-Albany, and Albany businessman Darrel Ealum.
And that, said Gay, is more typical.
In the July primary, insurance agent Judy Alderman outpolled attorney Wes Lewis by 1 percent and secured 33 percent of the votes. Five candidates sought that position.
This runoff not only will decide who is Colquitt County's new probate judge but also which candidate goes on to represent Democrats in the general election for U.S. Senate. Democrats will choose between Cliff Oxford and Denise Majette. The winner will face Republican Johnny Isakson in November for the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Zell Miller.
The runoff to determine who replaces retiring Court of Appeals Judge Frank M. Eldridge has been stayed by the Georgia Supreme Court, the Associated Press reported Monday. Votes in that race will not be counted or certified, Gay said.
In a six-person race, neither Debra Bernes nor Mike Sheffield received 50 percent of the votes. Secretary of State Cathy Cox ordered a recount because third-place finisher, Howard Mead, was so close to Sheffield in votes.
Since the runoff is an extension of the primary, voters who cast a Democratic ballot in the July 20 primary must cast a Democratic ballot in Tuesday's election, Gay said. Voters who cast a Republican ballot in the primary must cast a nonpartisan ballot because there is no Republican runoff. Those few voters who cast a nonpartisan ballot in the primary can cast either a Democratic or nonpartisan ballot in the runoff. Voters who did not vote in the primary can cast either a Democratic or nonpartisan ballot in the runoff.
Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Those interested in a play-by-play may watch the votes roll in on video equipment set up on the courthouse's third floor.