COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County voters lined up by the hundreds for a second day Tuesday, Oct. 12, to cast ballots during Georgia’s advance voting period before the Nov. 3 General Election.
About 750 voted Tuesday following 890 casting ballots Monday, Oct. 11, on the first day advance voting was available, election officials said. A similar line was seen circling the Newton County Administration Building both days.
County election board Chairman Phil Johnson said the board was “really pleased in the participation we’re seeing” in the advance voting process.
“This is really important that people use that right to vote,” he said.
The Monday number apparently would have been higher but heavy turnout statewide slowed the Georgia Secretary of State’s processing, Johnson said.
Newton County and the rest of the state use a system to check in voters that is linked to the Secretary of State’s web-based portal. It was overwhelmed because all Georgia counties were making the same kind of requests at the same time, Johnson said.
“We were told they were trying to beef that up,” he said.
Johnson said the process of voting statewide begins with a check-in procedure in which the election official determines if the voter is properly registered.
However, about 100 who showed up to vote in-person Monday already had requested absentee ballots. For each one, a poll worker was required to re-enter the Secretary of State’s online system, cancel the absentee ballot and require the voter to sign an affidavit, Johnson said.
In addition, the Newton County elections office could only get 16 machines in its available space because of the need to maintain social distancing due to COVID-19 safety concerns.
Georgia recorded a record 125,876 voters on the first day of advance voting, which was a 41% increase compared to the first day of early voting in 2016, Johnson said.
“We, like everywhere in the state, had overwhelming turnout,” Johnson said on Monday.
He predicted Newton County would see a record high share of its voters cast ballots in the General Election.
About 17,000 Newton County voters already had requested absentee ballots by Tuesday morning, he said.
The county has about 83,000 registered voters, with about 78,000 classified as active voters and 5,000 listed as inactive but still eligible to vote, Johnson said.