Early voting begins today in Stephens County for the Presidential Preference Primary

Today, March 2, begins the advance voting period for Georgia’s March 24 Presidential Preference Primary (PPP) election, which gives Georgia voters their opportunity to weigh in on which candidates for United States President they would like to see on the November General Election ballot.

Early voting in Stephens County will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday – Friday, ending at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 20. By state mandate, early voting will also be offered on Saturday, March 14. Early voting in Stephens County will take place in the second floor courtroom at the Historic County Courthouse in downtown Toccoa; no other voting locations will be open. However, all voting on Election Day, Tuesday, March 24, will take place at the Stephens County Senior Center, 55 Roselane Park Drive.


On the Republican ballot for the PPP, only one candidate is listed: Incumbent President Donald Trump.


On the Democratic ballot for the PPP, 12 candidates are listed: Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, former Vice President Joe Biden, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, former U.S. Rep. John Delaney, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.


As of March 1, the following Democratic candidates listed on the Georgia Democratic PPP ballot have announced their withdrawal from the race: Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer, Deval Patrick, Andre Yang, Michael Bennet and John Delaney.


Under Georgia voting laws, any vote cast for a candidate during the PPP will be recorded, counted and reported for that candidate, even if the candidate has officially withdrawn from the race.


When voting in the Georgia PPP, voters will be asked to select which ballot they wish to vote on, the Democratic ballot or the Republican ballot. Voters are free to choose either ballot without regard to any political party affiliation. Georgia has nonpartisan registration; there is no option to affiliate with a political party on the voter registration form, and therefor no manner by which to limit a voter to a pre-designated party’s ballot.


Additionally, Georgia is an open primary state, meaning voters do not have to be affiliated with a political party and can choose either party’s ballot. Also, a voter’s choice of ballot – either Republican or Democrat – does not obligate them to that party’s candidate in the General Election. However, a voter is tied to the party affiliation of their PPP ballot choice in any Presidential Primary runoff election.


Absentee voting for the PPP

Absentee voting is open to all registered voters; no reason must be given, and there are no special eligibility requirements for requesting an absentee ballot. Friday, March 20 is the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot for the March 24 PPP; however, no absentee ballots are issued on the day before, or the day of an election, meaning if a request by mail is received by the elections office on Friday, March 20, too late in the day for them to mail out the ballot before the end of the business day, the voter will not be issued an absentee ballot, and will have to vote in person on Tuesday, March 24. Completed absentee ballots must be received by the elections office no later than 7 p.m. on election day. For voters in the military, visit the Military/Overseas Voters page for specific information and deadlines. The Federal Voting Assistance Program also provides information for military and overseas voters.


Parking & Courthouse Access:

Both exterior stairways the lead from the parking lot at the county government annex building, directly across W. Tugalo Street from the Historic Courthouse, have been closed by county officials and have been barricaded due to safety and code concerns, according to County Adminstrator Phyllis Ayers. Visitors to the Historic Courthouse, including voters, who park in the annex parking lot will need to proceed from the parking lot to either North Alexander Street or North Sage Street, and cross West Tugalo at either of those intersections, instead of using the stairways to access West Tugalo at mid-block.


FYI

The results of the PPP plays a pivotal role, through the process of allocating delegates, in each party’s selection of their candidate that will appear on the General Election ballot in November. Business Insider Magazine provides a detailed description of the process.

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