COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County voters who have not already voted another way are gearing up to go to the polls at 22 locations Tuesday, Jan. 5, in the highly-publicized and hotly-contested runoff election for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats.
Polls will be open at Newton County's 22 voting precincts from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters will need to go to their designated precincts to vote, election officials said.
Visit mvp.sos.ga.gov or call 770-784-2055 to find the voter's Election Day polling location.
The runoff was required after neither of the top two vote-getters in each of the Nov. 3 Senate races and the PSC race won majorities of votes cast in their elections statewide.
About 31,000 — or 39% of all registered and active Newton County voters — had cast ballots through the final day of advance voting Thursday, Dec. 31, according to election records.
That total included 12,000 absentee voters and 19,000 who cast ballots during the three-week, in-person advance voting period at four locations between Dec. 14 and Dec. 31, records show.
With about 3,200 absentee ballots still not turned in, the total of absentee and advance voters could equal the 36,000 votes cast in the same ways for the General Election, said Phil Johnson, chairman of the Newton County Board of Elections.
Of those who participated in the General Election, 15,585 (29%) voted absentee, and 20,867 (38%) voted in-person during the three-week advance voting period.
Another 18,015 — 33% of all who voted — cast ballots in the traditional way at their designated precincts in-person on Election Day.
That brought the total In the General Election to about 54,000 who cast ballots — or 69% of Newton County’s 79,000 active registered voters.
In Tuesday's runoff election, Democrat Jon Ossoff is challenging incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., who is seeking a second six-year term.
Democrat Raphael Warnock is challenging incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., to complete the last two years of the Senate term of Johnny Isakson, who resigned in late 2019 for health reasons. Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to serve in the seat until this year’s election.
Johnson said he believed the election’s national prominence, combined with voter enthusiasm that carried over from the General Election, is helping drive the relatively heavy turnout for a runoff election. This year's turnout already has far exceeded the 24% turnout in Newton County for the Georgia Secretary of State runoff in 2018.
This year's Senate election received national attention because victories by Ossoff and Warnock would give Democrats 50 votes in the U.S. Senate and shift the balance of power from Republicans because Vice President Kamala Harris would be able to break any tie.
The four candidates have raised a combined total of about $340 million since October for the Nov. 3 election and Jan. 5 runoff, the Capitol Beat News Service reported. All spending on advertising and other campaigning in the two races reportedly has exceeded $400 million.
The Public Service Commission runoff features Democrat Daniel Blackman of Cumming challenging three-term incumbent Republican Lauren "Bubba" McDonald of Clarkesville.
Election officials statewide were allowed to begin processing absentee ballots for the runoff election Dec. 21.
Those Newton County residents voting absentee must get their completed ballots to the Newton County Elections and Registration Office by Tuesday, Jan. 5, at 7 p.m.
They must be returned to the issuing county in order to be counted, the county website stated.
The elections office has two secure drop boxes for submitting completed absentee ballots, the website stated. Drop box locations are:
• The North Entrance of the Newton County Administration Building at 1113 Usher St. in Covington;
• The Newton County Sheriff's Office's Westside Precinct at 3612 Salem Road (Kroger Shopping Plaza) in Covington.
For more information about voting in Newton County, call 770-784-2055 or visit https://www.co.newton.ga.us/167/Board-of-Elections-Registration.