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Heavy turnout continues as election nears
civic duty
Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter, whose day job is a government teacher at Richmond Hill High School, has been taking students old enough to vote to the polls for years, and 2020 was no exception as Carpenter escorted a bus load of seniors, to early voting Oct. 22 at the Rec Center on Timber Trail. They joined more than 40 percent of the county’s 33,026 registered voters casting ballots early in the Nov. 3 general election. Photo provided.

Nearly 14,500 of Bryan County’s 33,026 registered voters have already cast ballots in the Nov. 3 general election, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office said Wednesday afternoon.

Most of the local voting was done in person, the Secretary of State’s office said, with 11,379 votes cast in person by Wednesday afternoon.

For Bryan County Elections Supervisor Cindy Reynolds, the high participation during early voting – which began Oct. 12 and ends Friday afternoon – could mean more moderate turnout Tuesday on election day. “But,” she said in an email, “I have been wrong before.”

While the presidential race between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, is likely driving high turnout here and around the U.S., the race between Democrat Al Hagan and Republican Mark Crowe for Bryan County Sheriff is also likely bringing local voters to the polls.

In Bryan County, all 10 precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, with 56 poll workers in place as well as law enforcement officers on hand at each precinct to “assure voters that all is safe,” Reynolds said.

The high turnout and the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with only two advanced voting locations – one at the courthouse in Pembroke, the other at the Rec Center Gym on Timber Trail in Richmond Hill – has led to some headaches, the biggest of which has been voters “not wanting to follow CDC guidelines and wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart,” Reynolds said, adding that’s making other voters upset.

 While some states are waiting to count absentee ballots until 7 p.m., Georgia has already begun tallying those ballots and expects to be well ahead of the game, according to Bryan County Elections Board member B.J. Clark, who said Sunday the local board had already counted nearly 2,000 of the 4,400 ballots mailed out.

Note: Early in-person voting ends Friday in Bryan County. South Bryan residents can vote from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Richmond Hill Recreation Department, 508 Timber Trail Road in Richmond Hill. North Bryan residents can vote at the same time in Bryan County Commissioners’ Meeting Room at 151 South College Street in Pembroke. All voters must show valid government-issued photo identification. All precincts in the state will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the traditional election day: Tuesday, Nov. 3. Absentee voting began late last month and continues through election day, with an Oct. 30 deadline to request a ballot to be able to vote by mail.

The Bryan County branch of the NAACP will be one of the groups offering to drive voters to and from the polls on certain dates. These dates include:

• Now through Friday, Oct. 30, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Election day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. To get a ride to the polls, call or text 912-737-6815 to arrange a pick-up. Call early to reserve a spot.

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