COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County voters have two days of advance voting left before Election Day on Jan. 5 for the runoff elections for Georgia's two U.S. Senate seats and a Public Service Commission seat.
And though voter turnout may turn out to be not as high as the Nov. 3 General Election, it already has exceeded the 24% turnout for a 2018 runoff election for Secretary of State and an 8% turnout for a 2016 runoff for county commission seats, records show.
Locations for advance voting include:
• Newton County Administration Building at 1113 Usher St.;
• Newton County Library at 7116 Floyd St. NE;
• Zion Baptist Church at 7037 Ga. Highway 212 North;
• St. Augustine Catholic Church at 11524 U.S. Highway 278.
Remaining days and times are:
• Dec. 30, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at all locations.
• Dec. 31, 8 a.m. to noon at all locations except at the Administration Building, where it will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• No voting will be done on New Year’s Day on Friday, Jan. 1.
On Election Day Tuesday, Jan. 5, 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. Visit mvp.sos.ga.gov to find the voter's Election Day polling location.
About 23,000 — or 29% of all registered Newton County voters — had cast ballots through Monday, Dec. 28, according to election records.
That total includes 9,700 absentee voters and 13,300 who cast ballots during the first 11 days of the in-person advance voting period before the Jan. 5 runoff election, records show.
Phil Johnson, chairman of the Newton County Board of Elections, has said he was happy the board approved an additional two locations for advance voting the second and third weeks.
He 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.
The election has received national attention because victories by Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock would give Democrats a one-vote majority 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, Ossoff, Warnock and Republican incumbents Sen. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler 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.
The Newton County elections office also has seen a relatively high number of absentee ballots so far, Johnson said.
It had received 9,700 absentee ballots through Dec. 29, which is nearly two-thirds of the total received throughout the Nov. 3 election.
Newton County Board of Elections and Registration has two secure drop boxes for submitting completed absentee ballots, its website stated.
The 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.
Ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Jan. 5, and must be returned to the issuing county in order to be counted, the website stated.
Election officials statewide were allowed to begin processing absentee ballots for the runoff Dec. 21.
In the General Election, about 54,000 — or 69% of Newton County’s 79,000 active registered voters — cast ballots.
Of those who participated, 15,585 (29%) voted absentee, 20,867 (38%) voted in-person during the three-week advance voting period, and 18,015 (33%) voted in-person on Election Day.
Georgia law says a runoff between the top two vote-getters in each of the Nov. 3 Senate races must be conducted Jan. 5 to determine the winners after none of the candidates won majorities of votes cast in their elections statewide.
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.