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What’s next for elections in Forsyth County? Elections board discusses turnout, runoffs
FCN Voting 110718
Forsyth County resident Ningke Yi displays the sticker she received after voting on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. - photo by Bradley Wiseman

A week after more than 93,000 local voters cast ballots in the Nov. 6 elections, members of the Forsyth County Board of Voter Registrations and Elections met to discuss how voting went and what’s next.

On Tuesday, members of the board heard an update from Barbara Luth, director of voter registrations and elections for Forsyth County, who said she was pleased with the turnout for the election, which she said last week was a record for a non-presidential election year.

“I really hope that it continues,” Luth said. “I really prefer to have busy elections and people coming out to vote, even though there were some complaints on lines and things like that. But that was because they’re not used to those lines because people don’t get out and vote. If people would get out and vote, they’d be more used to it.”

Members of the board said there were some lines on Election Day but that there were relatively few complaints from voters.

“I was astonished that we didn’t have a bunch of complaints,” said Donald Glover, chairman of the board.

Luth pointed out that though voting was busy, times did not have to be extended like in other counties.

Some in the community also expressed frustration with results not coming in until the early morning hours on Nov. 7, though the high number of voters and elections rules, such as not being allowed to open absentee ballots, including advance voting, until 7 p.m. on election night.

“People are so used to instant, instant, instant everything, and if they keep pushing us, mistakes will be made,” said board member Carla Radzikinas. “We have to just stick with a process, and people just have to wait because we feel if we are pushed too much, then it’s going to make it so much worse.”

 

Numbers

Luth said the number of inactive voters in the county went down, meaning those who hadn’t voted in recent elections came out this year.

She said the county has a total of 152,908 voters – 142,809 active and 9,099 inactive. That total means about 65 percent of the county’s active voters and 61 percent of the county’s total voters participated in the elections.

Luth said 5,381 mail-in ballots were sent by the county and 4,051 were returned and 59 of 118 provisional ballots cast in the county were counted. She said among the reasons for not counting were, “some of them were for signatures. I think 17 were for signatures, and the rest of them were provisional that they were in other counties or thought they had registered and they did not, and a couple felons.”

She said the staff was looking closely at signature issues between ballots.

 

What’s next?

Though the elections department has had a long year, voting will take place at least one more time this year and could extend into 2019.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen with the runoff because the state hasn’t certified yet,” Luth said.

On Dec. 4, runoff elections will be held for state races between the top two vote-getters in races where no candidate received 50 percent of the vote total plus one vote.

For Georgia Secretary of State, Republican Brad Raffensperger, who earned 49.13 percent of the state’s votes, or about 1.91 million votes, and Democrat John Barrow, who received 48.64 percent of votes, or 1.89 million votes, will face off in a runoff.

Libertarian Smythe Duval received about 2.23 percent of the vote, about 86,000 votes, and will not be in the runoff.

Luth said on Tuesday a runoff is also planned for public service commissioner for District 3, Metro Atlanta, between Incumbent Republican Chuck Eaton, who received 49.74 percent of the vote, around 1.92 million votes, and Democrat challenger Lindy Miller, who earned 47.6 percent of the votes, or about 1.8 million votes.

Libertarian Ryan Graham, who earned about 2.6 percent of the vote, around 102,000 votes, did not qualify for the runoff.

Luth said it is not yet clear when advance voting will begin for the runoff.

“If the state does not certify until Friday, which there’s rumor of that, then that delays us getting the ballot for any runoffs that we have,” Luth said.

She said voting could be held Nov. 19 through Nov. 21 if the state certifies results this week. Voting would not be open on Nov. 22 and Nov. 23 as county offices will be closed for Thanksgiving.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is also seeking a runoff in her race against Republican Brian Kemp.

Though a runoff has not been called as current totals show Abrams earned 48.79 percent of the state vote, or 1.92 million votes, and Kemp received 50.26 percent of votes, or 1.98 million votes, Abrams’ campaign went to federal court Sunday asking a judge to delay vote certifications by one day until Wednesday, which was approved.

Kemp’s campaign previously said it’s numerically impossible for Abrams to force a runoff by closing his margin of nearly 59,000 votes and declared Kemp the winner last week.

Advance voting will take place the following week of Nov. 26 to Nov. 30.

A runoff could also happen for Georgia’s 7th Congressional race between incumbent Republican Rob Woodall, who earned 50.2 percent of the votes, or 139,837 votes in Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, and Democratic challenger Carolyn Bourdeaux, who earned 49.8 percent of the vote, or 138,936 votes.

Bourdeaux’s campaign filed a complaint on Sunday night accusing Gwinnett County of improperly rejecting hundreds of absentee ballots.