By Tia Lynn Ivey
The phone rang nearly 10 times before a frazzled employee answered the phone at the Morgan County Board of Elections and Registration. “We’re swamped right now,” the employee said as Morgan County voters were pouring in to cast their ballots early for the 2020 Presidential Election on the second day of early voting.
The rate of early voters is shattering previous early voting records.
On the first day early voting opened, Monday Oct. 12, 704 people cast their votes in-person at the election office in Madison. On the second day, 403 people cast their votes in person as of Tuesday at 2 p.m. In the 2016 Presidential Election, early voting in Morgan County averaged about 300 votes per day. In 2020, the first day of early voting more than doubled 2016’s first day of early voter turnout. Early voting for the 2008 election, as well as the 2012 election cycle, yielded between 70-100 ballots cast each day during the Early Voting window. Between a controversial presidential election, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, election officials are anticipating the highest early voter turnout in Morgan County’s history.
“Whew!” said an exhausted Jennifer Doran, Morgan County’s election supervisor. “We are happy to see so many Morgan County voters coming out to exercise their right to vote.”
Early voting runs through Friday, Oct. 30. This year, due to the ongoing coronavirus, a ballot drop-off box will be available outside of the local election office in Madison for voters to safely turn-in filled out ballots before Election Day. Early voting will only take place at the Morgan County Board of Elections and Registration office, located at 434 Hancock Street in Madison. Early voting hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will also be the opportunity to cast your vote early on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In addition to the presidential showdown between President Donald Trump and Democratic Challenger Joe Biden, there will be a slew of federal, state and local races also on the ballot. Incumbent Senator David Perdue (R), Jon Ossoff (D), and Shane Hazel (L) are running in the election for U.S. Senate from Georgia on November 3, 2020.
Republican Joe Slaughter will run against Independent Kathryn Caldwell for the District 2 Board of Education seat.
Republican Brad Hawk will seek the Board of Education District 3 Seat, as will Ann Ballard, a Democrat.
Wendy Coe, a Republican and Shelia Terrell Sanders, a Democrat, are running for County Tax Commissioner.
There are several uncontested races. Republican Ben Riden Jr. is running for reelection to the County Commissioner District 3 Seat. Republican Bill Kurtz of Madison is running for the County Commissioner District 5 seat, vacated by retiring Commission Ron Milton. Republican Philipp von Hanstein is also seeking reelection for the County Commissioner District 4 Seat. Republican Incumbent Robert Markley is running for Morgan County Sheriff. Republican Jody Milford Higdon is running for Clerk of Super Court. Incumbent Charles Merritt is running for probate judge. Adam Carter, a republican incumbent is running for County Coroner. Democratic Incumbent Cheryl Bland is running for reelection to the Board of Education District 1 seat. Incumbent Connie Holt is seeking reelection for Magistrate Judge.