Election Day 2021: Voting underway across Ga., S.C.

The polls will open for voting on Nov. 2, 2021 at 7 a.m. across Georgia and South Carolina.
The polls will open for voting on Nov. 2, 2021 at 7 a.m. across Georgia and South Carolina.

CHATHAM CO., Ga. (WTOC) - The polls will open Tuesday morning for voters across the state of Georgia and South Carolina.

The Board of Elections in Chatham County is not expecting a big turnout for this particular election so they aren’t expecting long lines at most of the precincts.

Some people already voted early in-person and by mail. In Chatham County, 5,168 voters cast their ballot early and they have received 964 main-in ballots back, but they expect that number to climb before the end of the day Tuesday. The Board of Registrars says they are still missing about 500 ballots that were sent out but not returned, so if you haven’t returned yours, keep in mind that it does need to be returned to the elections office on Eisenhower Drive before 7 p.m. Tuesday when the polls close.

Since this is a municipal election, the Chatham County Board of Elections Supervisor Billy Wooten says usually in these elections, about 10 percent or less of registered voters show up to vote.

Georgia’s new voting law that passed earlier this year might be driving more people to vote on Election Day, according to the board of elections.

You may have noticed an absentee drop box missing from outside of the Board of Elections Office. That’s because the law only allows absentee drop boxes inside of early voting locations. Also, they can only be used during voting hours.

“We’ve kind of predicted, coming out of Covid, that we will have more in-person voting and a lot of the changes were a bit of a deterrent for some people to participate in advanced voting and voting by mail, so, we do expect people to show up physically face-to-face at a poll to cast their vote, particularly those who are in the 165th district,” said Malinda Hodge, Board of Elections Vice Chair.

On Election Day, you also won’t see people giving out food and water to voters in line. If that does happen, the law says those people could be charged with a misdemeanor.

While turnout will not be huge this election, polling places in the 165th district are expecting more. People in Thunderbolt and Bloomingdale will elect their next mayors and several council members. Council seats in Garden City, Port Wentworth and Tybee Island are also up-for-grabs. There will also be a countywide ESPLOST question, and one special election for the 165th House District on the ballot.

The ESPLOST question will ask voters to vote yes or no to a 1-percent educational sales tax. The tax would not extend past five years and would raise about $410 million for the district to proceed on a number of projects, including purchasing land for schools buildings and athletic facilities, building new facilities and renovating other district properties, and purchasing school buses and modernizing technology system-wide.

Voters in the 165th House District will have a special election to fill the seat of Representative Mickey Stephens after his passing. Five candidates qualified to run. The candidates are former Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson, former Chatham County Board of Elections Member Antwan Lang, Savannah-native Clinton Young, Clinton Cowart and Sabrina Greene-Kent.

“That is a district that is a minority district in a lot of respects, it is also quite diverse with democrats and republicans from Thunderbolt to the east side of Savannah. It is a diverse community and it needs to be represented by someone who has a consensus to represent all the people,” said Rep. Carl Gilliard (D).

“It is a very big deal to get the right representation up there and get somebody that can speak for you back home. We have been picking up the slack, of course, whenever Mickey was sick and now that he is gone, but it is getting down to crunch time,” said Rep. Ron Stephens (R).

In Effingham County, residents will decide on a SPLOST option to raise taxes by 1-percent. Voters will also choose a member of the community to sit in the District 2 spot on the school board. And Rincon voters will choose whether or not to re-elect Mayor Ken Lee and four seats on city council. In Guyton, residents will vote on the Post 4 seat on city council.

In Statesboro, voters will choose to either re-elect or replace Mayor Jonathan McCollar with political newcomer Ernest Larry Lawton challenging the one-term mayor for the seat. Voters will also choose who will represent the city’s 4th District on city council. Residents will also vote whether package stores can expand alcohol sales to include liquor.

In South Carolina, there are no state elections, so turnout is expected to be light. Beaufort County voters will weigh in on two referendums: Penny Tax - if approved, the tax would be levied on most sales countywide and would be used to offset property taxes and provide funding to county and municipal operations; and Form of Government - if approved, the county’s current form of government would change to allow certain positions, such as the treasurer and auditor, to be appointed by the county manager instead of being elected by voters.

Those who live in Bluffton will be voting for two town council positions. The three names on the ballot will be Councilmen Fred Hamilton and Larry Toomer and challenger Nathan Ferrell. Voters can select two.

Voters who live in Port Royal will be choosing two town council members. Four people are running, and the two top vote-getters will win the election. The two incumbents are Daryl Owens and Mary Beth Heyward, and the two first-time challengers are Eddie Gugino and John Hazel.

Yemassee residents will also be voting for mayor and two open council positions. Mayor Colin Moore is running unopposed for his second term. Six candidates are seeking one of two seats on town council: Trena Ellis, Natasha N. Green, Robert “Bobby” Moore, David Paul Murray, Stacy Pinckney and Darrell Russell. Voters can choose two.

There are many local races happening this cycle so be sure to check out what will be on your specific ballot by clicking here for Georgia ballots. (Under “MVP Login” type in the first letter of your first name, your last name, select the county where you live, and input your date of birth. Click Submit.) For sample ballots in South Carolina, click here.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Elections officials say the busiest times are usually in the first two hours and in the last two hours of the day. Voters in Chatham and Beaufort counties are not required to wear a mask at polling locations, but they are recommended.

As a reminder, you must have a valid ID to vote. Also, be sure to check your polling location and registration status before heading out to cast your ballot. >>> LINKS: Find your polling location in Georgia, South Carolina

The following is a full list of Nov. 2, 2021 elections for the WTOC Viewing Area:

Graham City Council - Appling County

Bryan County ESPLOST

Statesboro Mayor - Bulloch County

Statesboro City Council - District 4 - Bulloch County

Statesboro Package Sale Referendum - Bulloch County

Portal City Council - Post 3 - Bulloch County

Portal City Council - Post 4 - Bulloch County

Register Mayor - Bulloch County

Register City Council - District 1 - Bulloch County

Register Package Sale Referendum - Bulloch County

Chatham County ESPLOST

GA State House 165th District - Chatham County

Thunderbolt Mayor - Chatham County

Tybee Island City Council - Chatham County

Garden City - City Council At Large - Chatham County

Garden City - City Council District 5 - Chatham County

Port Wentworth City Council At Large - Chatham County

Port Wentworth City Council District 1 - Chatham County

Port Wentworth City Council District 3 - Chatham County

Bloomingdale Mayor - Chatham County

Bloomingdale City Council - Chatham County

Effingham County SPLOST

Effingham County E-Commerce Freeport Exemption Referendum

Effingham County Board of Education - District 2

Guyton City Council - Post 4 - Effingham County

Guyton Package Sale Referendum - Effingham County

Rincon Mayor - Effingham County

Rincon City Council - Effingham County

Denton Mayor - Jeff Davis County

Hazlehurst Package Sale Referendum - Jeff Davis County

Flemington City Council - Liberty County

Darien City Council - South Ward - McIntosh County

Glennville Sunday Alcohol Sales on Premises - Tattnall County

Glennville Package Sale of Distilled Spirits - Tattnall County

Glennville Distilled Spirits by the Drink - Tattnall County

Glennville Package Sales on Sunday - Tattnall County

Collins Mayor - Tattnall County

Collins City Council - Tattnall County

Sylvania - City Council At Large - Screven County

Beaufort County - Local Option Sales Tax Question

Beaufort County - Retain or Change Form of Government Question

Port Royal Town Council - Beaufort County

Yemassee Town Council - Beaufort County

Bluffton Town Council - Beaufort County

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