Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

October 27, 2013

Will voter turnout increase this week?

VALDOSTA — After 10 days of early voting, 1,190 Lowndes County residents had cast ballots in some combination of municipal elections or the referendum for SPLOST VII by day's end Friday.

Residents of Valdosta, Dasher, Hahira, Lake Park and Remerton have the opportunity to decide their respective city council races. In Valdosta, residents can also vote for school board members. All Lowndes County registered voters may vote yes or no to the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax VII.

However, with an average so far of approximately 110 ballots cast per day since early voting started Oct. 14, Mondays through Fridays, it seems a small percentage of voters might decide the outcomes.

Of course, just because there is a city election doesn't mean every city resident has a candidate to elect. For example, the City of Valdosta is electing council members and school board members but they are doing so by district. So not every Valdosta resident necessarily has someone for whom to cast a ballot. Only residents living in Districts 2, 4, 6, and Valdosta Board of Education Districts 1, 2, 3 have a candidate to select in this election, and those living in school District 3 don't even have a contested race to decide as incumbent school board member Warren Lee is unopposed for reelection.

In Hahira, only people living in City Council Districts 1, 2 and 4 will choose a representative, though only District 2 is a contested race while Districts 1, 4 candidates are unopposed; however, all Hahira residents can cast a ballot for one of the four mayoral candidates.

As for Dasher City Council, candidates for the only two districts on the ballot are unopposed; the mayor is also unopposed.

In Lake Park, the mayor is unopposed while there are only five candidates for four at-large spots on Lake Park City Council.

In Remerton, there are only three candidates for three at-large seats on the City Council.

Given the selection of only a few districts per respective town, with many of these districts featuring unopposed candidates, and no county seats, state officials, congressional or presidential candidates on the ballot, voter turnout is traditionally low in this type of election year.

However, there is SPLOST VII, a controversial measure that has both vocal supporters and detractors. Every registered voter in Lowndes County does have a say in this referendum.

And maybe more voters are waiting for this week or the Nov. 5 Election Day to cast a ballot. Advanced voting continues this week from 7 a.m.- 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, Board of Elections Office, 2808 N. Oak St. There are advantages to early voting.

“If voters wait until the last day to vote, they have to go to a polling place in the community,” Deb Cox, supervisor of elections, told The Times earlier this month. “The biggest benefit is convenience – vote on your timetable, when it’s convenient to you. Wait time is almost always under 15 minutes from the time you come in the door until the time you walk out.”

Voters may also request free rides to the elections office, by calling (229) 671-2850.

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