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UPDATE: Four Newton early voting locations planned for Senate runoff elections
Recount of presidential election decreases Biden's total by five votes, adds nothing to Trump's votes
Voters line up
Newton County advance voters line up Friday, Oct. 23, outside the Newton County Administration Building in downtown Covington. - photo by Tom Spigolon

ADVANCE VOTING FOR JAN. 5 RUNOFF:

Newton Co. Admin. Bldg.

12/14-12/31

Address: 1113 Usher St.

Newton County Library

12/14-12/31

Address: 7116 Floyd St.

Zion Baptist Church

12/21-12/31

Address: 7037 Hwy. 212 North

St. Augustine Cath. Church

12/21-12/31

Address: 11524 U.S. Hwy. 278

COVINGTON, Ga. — Two Newton County locations will be available for in-person advance voting beginning Dec. 14 and two more Dec. 21 for the runoff election for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats and a Public Service Commission position.

County election officials also said they completed their recount Monday, Nov. 30, of the General Election votes for president that only changed the totals by five votes. 

Turnout for the Jan. 5 runoff could be as high as 40% of Newton County registered voters based on requests for absentee ballots, said Phil Johnson, chairman of the Newton County Board of Elections. 

The heavily advertised races are expected to set spending records for a U.S. Senate election, in part because they could alter the balance of power in the legislative body if Democrats win both races.

The advance voting period is set for Dec. 14 to 31 and four Newton County advance voting locations will be available:

• Newton County Administration Building at 1113 Usher St. in Covington.

• Newton County Library at 7116 Floyd St. in Covington. 

• Zion Baptist Church at 7037 Highway 212 North in Covington.

• St. Augustine Catholic Church at 11524 U.S. Highway 278 in Covington.

The Administration Building and Library will be voting locations Dec. 14-31, while the two churches will be added as sites Dec. 21-31, officials said.

Johnson said the election board wanted to double the number of early voting sites to help cut down the sometime lengthy wait times voters endured in October before the Nov. 3 General Election. 

However, only four hours of voting will be scheduled on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, and New Year's Eve, Dec. 31, Johnson said. No voting is scheduled on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day or the weekends during the three-week period. 

Election day for in-person voting at the county’s 22 voting precincts is set for Jan. 5.

Three races will be on the ballot, including the two U.S. Senate seats and the District 4 seat on the Georgia Public Service Commission.

Democrat Raphael Warnock is challenging incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler for the right to complete the remaining two years of the term of Johnny Isakson, who resigned in December 2019 for health reasons. 

Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to serve in the seat until an election could be held Nov. 3. Loeffler and Warnock qualified for the runoff after they were the top two vote-getters out of a field of 20 candidates in the primary but neither received a majority of votes.

Democrat Jon Ossoff is challenging incumbent Republican David Perdue for the U.S. Senate seat that Perdue has held since 2014. 

The Public Service Commission race features Democrat Daniel Blackman challenging incumbent Republican Lauren “Bubba” McDonald. The commission primarily regulates Georgia Power, including the rate it charges customers, and some other utilities providing gas and telephone service in Georgia. 

The deadline for registering to vote in the runoff election is Monday, Dec. 7, and can be done by visiting https://georgia.gov/register-to-vote.

For information on times for advance voting, or how to apply for an absentee ballot for the election, visit https://www.co.newton.ga.us/169/Ways-to-Vote

RECOUNT CHANGES LITTLE

Johnson said the recount of Newton County’s 54,500 votes for president decreased Democrat Joe Biden’s winning total by five votes in Newton County.

The recount also left totals unchanged for incumbent Republican President Donald Trump and Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen compared to the county totals certified Nov. 9, Johnson said.

He said he believed the votes were taken away after a review panel determined that five voters did not clearly show on their ballots they were choosing Biden or any other candidate.

An election board member and representatives of the county’s Democratic and Republican parties comprised the three-member vote review panel.

About 240 voters did not make any choice for president out of the 54,500 who cast ballots in the General Election, according to county election totals.

Monday’s action, including recertification of the totals, completed Newton County’s part of the statewide recount requested by Trump’s campaign after he lost to Biden in Georgia by 12,600 votes out of 5 million cast. 

Biden’s statewide margin of victory was 0.25% in winning the state’s 16 electoral votes. Georgia law allows the losing campaign to request a recount if the difference is less than 0.5%.

All 159 counties must complete their individual recounts by Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 11:59 p.m., the Secretary of State’s office has announced.

Second recount1
From left, Mike Hesterley of the Newton County Democratic Party, county elections board Chairman Phil Johnson and Leesha Jay of the Newton County Republican Party check ballots containing write-in votes Nov. 24 during a recount of the presidential election requested by President Donald Trump's campaign. - photo by Tom Spigolon