This year’s election calendar in Georgia will look a lot different.
That is after changes approved by the state’s General Assembly were signed into law recently by the Governor.
Stephens County Registrar Theresa Kelley said the changes became necessary after a federal judge ruled that Georgia was not giving military and overseas voters enough time to receive their ballots and return them in federal run-off elections in the state.
“You have to have 45 days between an election,” said Kelley. “They had 45 days before the general primary or the general election, but they did not have 45 days from the time that election was over with until a run-off election. Therefore, we have to give them that 45 days between a general primary, a general election, and that run-off election.”
Kelley said that the state has chosen to closely align its calendar with the one mandated by the federal court order, rather than have two widely different election calendars.
She said the main change that results from this is a much earlier general primary election.
“We will have our primary on May 20th of this year,” said Kelley, noting it used to be in July.
That May primary will include local races such as County Commissioner and Board of Education, along with state races and federal races.
Kelley pointed out that an earlier primary means an earlier qualifying period also.
“Qualifying now will be March 3rd through (March) 7th,” said Kelley.
The general primary run-off election, if needed, will take place on July 22.
However, Stephens County will get its election year started even earlier as the county is holding a special election in March to fill the unexpired term of the late Harold Andrews on the Stephens County Commission.
Kelley said the qualifying period for that special election is coming up next week.
“That will take place January 29th through (January) 31st,” said Kelley. “Qualifying for that (special election) will be done here in my office.”
For more information on the special election or anything else related to elections, call the Stephens County Registrar’s Office at 706-886-8954.