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First-time voters cast early ballots
Early voting comes to a close Friday
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Students from Richmond Hill High School cast their ballots early for the November general election on Thursday at the County Administrative Complex in Richmond Hill. - photo by Lori Wynn

Thursday was an exciting day for more than a dozen Richmond Hill High School seniors. That was the day the recently turned 18-year-olds got to vote for the first time.

“I feel like I finally have a say in our country,” said Alec Childress.

His classmate Kevin Schwartz agreed.

“It’s power,” he said.

Luckily, the students didn’t have to skip school to cast their ballots. The jaunt from RHHS to the Bryan County Administrative Complex was a field trip of sorts courtesy of Jennifer Sack and Russ Carpenter, who both teach 12th-grade government at the high school.

“This is the third time we’ve been able to do this,” Carpenter said. “We did it in the 2010 congressional election and in the March presidential primary.”

And the hands-on civics lesson was made possible in part by early voting, which got under way Oct. 15 and will continue during regular business hours through Friday at the Administrative Complex in Richmond Hill and the Voter Registration Office in Pembroke. Early voting will also be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today in both locations.

Sack and Carpenter said it wouldn’t have been possible to haul the kids out to vote on Nov. 6. The students would likely have to cast ballots at different polling places depending on where they live, and polls are expected to be busy on Election Day. As it worked out Thursday, the group of students all voted in less than 30 minutes.

But that doesn’t mean poll workers during early voting have been bored for the past two weeks. According to Chief Registrar Warren Miller, turnout has been “pretty steady” in Bryan County for early voting, drawing nearly 3,200 of the county’s more than 20,000 registered voters as of Friday.

According to a press release from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, nearly 700,000 Georgia voters have already cast a ballot during early voting.

Miller said election officials expect things to pick up during the final week.

“It usually increases (during the last week), but it’s just hard to predict,” he said. “Historically the last week is the busiest week, and it’s been pretty brisk so far so I’m sure it’ll get busier.”

Miller said he wasn’t quite sure what to expect for Saturday voting today.

“In the presidential preference primary, there was low turnout (for Saturday early voting), and there was some interest in the July primary, but not as much as we thought with the local races,” Miller said. “It’ll be interesting.”

Miller also said election officials still expect a high turnout on Election Day, so voters are encouraged to cast their ballots early.

“We’re kind of thinking (Election Day) is going to be along the lines of 2008 — probably pretty similar, maybe even a little more turnout,” he said. “I believe early voting has been a little more than (2008). I don’t have exact numbers, but it seems like it’s been a little busier.”

And whether people decide to cast ballots early or on Election Day, Miller said voters should check out the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page ( to review their sample ballot and make sure they know where their polling place is.

Locally, North Bryan residents will decide whether Democratic incumbent Joe Kendrick or challengers Ed Bacon, an independent, or Noah Covington, a Republican, will represent District 1 for the next four years as county commissioner.

In South Bryan, voters in District 4 will choose between current Board of Education Vice Chairman Jeff Morton and political newcomer Marianne Smith for the next four years.

Across the county, voters also will choose who will represent their districts at the state and federal level. For the 1st Congressional District, voters will decide between incumbent Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, and Democratic challenger Lesli Rae Messinger.

At the state level, voters will decide between incumbent Rep. Jan Tankersley, R-Brooklet, and Democrat Marc Silver for District 160. Voters also will choose between incumbent Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savnnah, and Democrat Lauren Craddock to represent District 164.

Voters will also see some familiar names on the November ballot — those who won their race in the July primary and have no opposition in the general election.

For more information or to view a sample ballot, contact the Voter Registration Office at 653-3859 or visit

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