VALDOSTA – Elections never stop.

While the presidential election stands out as the main event for American politics in 2020, residents can look forward to several elections during the year.

Tiffany Linkswiler, assistant supervisor of elections for Lowndes County, spoke with The Valdosta Daily Times about preparing residents for the upcoming election schedule.

The first election of the year will occur March 24 and residents will vote in Democratic and Republican primaries. Voter registration for that election ends Feb. 24.

Linkswiler said a special election could be attached to the primaries; those special elections can be held for a variety of reasons: a legislator out of their district, a legislator passed away, a new SPLOST, etc. For the March 24 election, she said there could be a special election for one of the smaller cities.

If there is a runoff for that election date, it would occur April 21. The runoff contains the same Feb. 24 voter registration deadline as the March election since it is a continuation of the first election.

Residents can only choose one primary to vote, either Democrats and Republicans. If a runoff occurs, residents must vote in the same party's primary as they did initially. Voters can decline to vote in either primary and still vote in special election matters if they desire, according to Linkswiler.

The next election covers races for federal, state, local offices and special elections to be held May 19. Linkswiler said the election is the longest ballot of the year usually since it can incorporate so many races ranging from county commission and school board to judge.

"This is everything except president's (election). ... It's the longest ballot we have," Linkswiler said. "You can get some SPLOST ones that look long, but this one has the most on it."

Voter registration for this local primary ends April 20. 

Because of the high number of races in the election, she said a runoff usually results for at least one.

"Statistically, there's always one. There's so many offices open," Linkswiler said. "In my 10, 11 years here, there's never not been one."

Runoff elections would be held July 21. While local and state races do not receive another voter registration deadline, residents can register until June 22 for federal races.

And on Nov. 3, it will be for all the marbles. 

President Donald Trump, the incumbent, is expected to go for re-election against the winner of the Democratic primary and third-party candidates. The last chance for residents to register for the presidential election ends Oct. 5. The November election could include a special election such as those in March and May as well.

Although there is no runoff for presidential elections, runoffs for state and local races would take place Dec. 1. The voter registration deadline for that runoff would not change from the original Oct. 5 date.

Linkswiler mentioned the election board would love to speak with organizations and groups about how voting works. She encourages residents to reach out.

"If they want us to go speak to a group, we can do that," Linkswiler said. "We can take equipment out and demonstrate it."

She just asks that whoever wants to coordinate a talk and/or demonstration do it early.

"If you ask us three days before the election, we may not be able to," she said.

Notable upcoming dates:

Feb. 4: Board of Elections will begin mailing out absentee ballots for Democratic and Republican primaries and special election.

Feb. 24: Voter registration deadline for Democratic and Republican primaries and special election.

March 2: Early voting begins at the Lowndes Board of Elections.

March 7, 8, 14: Two Saturdays and Sunday open for early voting. 

March 24: Democratic and Republican primaries and special election date.

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