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Early voting begins for May 24 primary

FORSYTH COUNTY — After months of campaigning, Forsyth County voters will have their first opportunity on Monday to cast a ballot in the May 24 General Primary.

Advance voting will run for three weeks ahead of Election Day. Polls will be open at the Forsyth County Administration Building, Cumming City Hall, Hampton Park Library and the community buildings at Midway and Sharon Springs parks.

Barbara Luth, supervisor of the county’s department of voter registrations and elections, said that voting times vary by location and week.

“Our office will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day, and the other locations we’ll be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the first two weeks,” she said. “And then the third week it we’ll be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the four locations other than our office.”

According to Luth, the hours are different at administration building because it allows staff to assist at the other locations after it closes and to finish work for the election. She said it also was disruptive to voters, who could still cast a ballot across the street at City Hall.

Registration to vote in the primary closed April 26, and Luth said the county currently boasts more than 130,000 voters.

“Active voters, we’re up to 109,891 and we have inactive 22,221 for a total of 132,112,” Luth said.

Inactive voters are still allowed to vote, Luth said, it’s just that have not participated or communicated with the county for years.

She said that she didn’t have an exact figure as of Friday for how many voters had registered for the primary, but that there was a significant uptick in online registration.

Voters can choose a primary ballot for the Republican or Democratic parties, and will need to bring valid identification.

The following is a listing of local contested seats in the primary (unless otherwise noted, all candidates are Republicans):

* Sheriff: Duane Piper, incumbent, and Ron Freeman

* County commission District 4: Cindy Jones Mills, incumbent, and Kelli Warren

* County commission District 5: Chandon Adams, Justin Hawkins and Laura Semanson

* Board of education District 3: Tom Cleveland, incumbent, and Steve Mashburn

* Board of education District 5: Nancy Roche, incumbent, Kevin Foley and Michael Tasos

* Coroner: Lauren McDonald III and Stan Rutledge

Anita Tucker, the lone Democrat in a local race, also qualified for the District 5 board of education seat, and will face the winning Republican in November.

Incumbents that were up for election but are running unopposed include: Tax Commissioner Matthew Ledbetter; Clerk of Courts Greg G. Allen; Probate Court Judge Lynwood Jordan and Darla Light, board of education District 4.

Newcomer Rick Swope was the only candidate who qualified for the District 2 county commission seat.

Lawmakers at both the state and federal levels also are up for re-election.

Republican Sens. Steve Gooch of District 51 and Michael Williams of District 27 and Republican state Reps. Sheri Gilligan of District 24, Geoff Duncan of District 26, Kevin Tanner of District 9 and Wes Cantrell of District 22 are all seeking new terms.

Williams will see a challenge in November from Democrat Daniel Blackman, while Gooch will face fellow Republican John Williamson this month.

The only member of the local House delegation with a challenge will be Cantrell, from Democrat Oscar “Asghar” Hajloo of Canton.

The District 25 seat will be a race between Todd Jones, a technology officer, and Stuart Jones, a financial planner. Rep. Mike Dudgeon, who currently holds the seat, announced in January that he would not run again due to his growing business.

U.S. Reps. Rob Woodall of District 7 and Doug Collins of District 9 each qualified, though both drew opposition.

Woodall will face Democrat Rashid Malik of Lawrenceville in the district that covers south Forsyth and a large swath of Gwinnett County.

Collins, whose district includes north Forsyth, will go up against fellow Republicans Roger Fitzpatrick, Bernie Fontaine, Mike Scupin and Paul Broun, the former representative for District 10.

If no candidate in a race reaches the required 50 percent of votes plus one vote, citizens will return to polls for a July 26 runoff.

More information can be found at