Fulton elections chief worried at low early voting turnout

Last ‘off-election’ saw turnout of only 20 percent

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Despite early voting sites in North Fulton, turnout so far has been “dismal” here, said Fulton County Elections Director Richard Barron.

In other areas of Fulton County, specifically South Fulton and Atlanta, early balloting has been markedly higher, Barron said.

“We are trying to encourage early voting with the expanded voting locations opening this week,” he said. “A couple of sites in Johns Creek are new, such as the Johns Creek Environmental Campus [the county sewerage treatment plant on Holcomb Bridge Road]. I was out there the other day and cars just zipped past.”

According to the Department of Registration and Elections, North Fulton voters have not been taking advantage of the early voting opportunity.

Of course, a limiting factor could be that the Johns Creek Environmental Campus was the single early voting location for all of the 270,000 residents who live north of the Chattahoochee River.

There are two weeks remaining for early voting, and expanded locations will provide five more locations in North Fulton.

Barron noted that while it is an off-year for presidential elections, there are many important primary races and special elections that voters should mark.

• Congressional seats are up every two years, and for Red and Blue districts, the primary will decide who goes to Washington.

• The U.S. Senate seat of retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss has many candidates statewide.

• Only one of the seven Fulton County Commission seats is unopposed (Liz Hausmann, District 1 in Johns Creek).

• Nine Johns Creek candidates are running for two vacant City Council posts in a special election.

• Roswell has a special election to replace Municipal Court Judge Maurice Hilliard.

Barron wanted to reiterate the advantages of voting early.

“First, there typically is only a short wait, if any, when you vote early. Voters can choose a day that is most convenient for them, and they can choose a day they know it won’t be raining,” he said.

More North Fulton early voting sites will include Ocee Library (see chart) and Northeast/Spruill Oaks Library in Johns Creek; Roswell Library in Roswell; and Milton Center (the old Milton High School) in Alpharetta.

“Voting has been light in North Fulton. In the south part of the county, voting sites have stayed pretty busy, and Sandy Springs has been decent. On a non-presidential election, turnout is usually only about 20 percent,” Barron said. “We are hoping that the number of local and statewide elections will encourage more early voting.”

People should be aware that come primary election day, May 20, many precincts may have changed. New precinct cards have been mailed out, and precincts for the County Commission have vastly changed due to redistricting to create two commission districts above the Chattahoochee and the elimination of one of the district-wide commission seats.

The seat for the commission chair remains a countywide seat.

Early voting locations – April 28 through May 16

Johns Creek Environmental Campus, 8100 Holcomb Bridge Road, Alpharetta, Ga. 30022

North Fulton Service Center, Room 232, 7741 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs, Ga. 30328

Fulton County Government Center, 130 Peachtree St., Suite 2186, Atlanta, Ga. 30303

Expanded early voting locations – May 5 through May 16

Ocee Library, 5090 Abbotts Bridge Road, Johns Creek, Ga. 30005-4601

Northeast/Spruill Oaks Library, 9560 Spruill Road, Johns Creek, Ga. 30022

Roswell Library, 115 Norcross St., Roswell, Ga. 30075

Milton Center, 86 School Drive, Alpharetta, Ga. 30004

Sandy Springs Library, 395 Mount Vernon Hwy. NE, Sandy Springs, Ga. 30328

Northside Library, 3295 Northside Parkway NW, Atlanta, Ga. 30327

RN 05-08-14