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Early voting in Georgias presidential primary starts Monday
State among 14 casting ballots in 'SEC Primary' on March 1
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Georgia presidential primary

When: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 1

Where: Polling precincts throughout the county

Early voting

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday through Feb. 26

Where: Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville

Saturday voting

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 20

Where: Hall County Government Center; North Hall Community Center, 4175 Nopone Road, Gainesville; Spout Springs Library, 6488 Spout Springs Road, Flowery Branch

More info: www.hallcounty.org/249/Elections

Sample Democratic ballot

Sample Republican ballot

Election 2016 calendar

Monday: Early voting begins for Georgia primary

Tuesday: New Hampshire primary

Feb. 20: Nevada Democratic caucuses; South Carolina Republican primary

Feb. 23: Nevada Republican caucuses

Feb. 27: South Carolina Democratic primary

March 1: Georgia primary, plus contests in 13 other states

April 26: Voter registration deadline for state primary

May 24: Georgia state primary (for congressional and local offices); early voting starts May 2, runoff date July 26

July 18-21: Republican convention, Cleveland

July 25-28: Democratic convention, Philadelphia

Oct. 11: Registration deadline for general election

Oct. 17: Early voting begins for general election

Nov. 8: Election Day 

Now it gets real.

Early voting starts Monday in Georgia’s 2016 presidential primaries for Republican and Democratic candidates. It’s the start of a lengthy process with byzantine rules that culminates in each party’s national convention naming its nominee for president in the summer.

The primary in Georgia is March 1 with polls open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but early voting will be offered Monday to Friday through Feb. 26 and Saturday, Feb. 20. The Saturday voting is new since the 2012 presidential primary.

Charlotte Sosebee, chief registrar for Hall County, said the early voting was tried in the November 2015 Gainesville election and it went well “based on turnout, it was a great idea.”

She noted that state law requires counties to hold early voting on one Saturday and local voters have requested extended hours.

Early voting is set for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays in the Elections Office on the lower level of the at the Hall County Government Center at 2875 Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville.

Saturday voting Feb. 20 will include two additional locations: the North Hall Community Center, 4175 Nopone Road in Gainesville, and Spout Springs Library, 6488 Spout Springs Road, Flowery Branch. Voting hours for that day will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Georgia is just one of 14 states holding presidential contests March 1, which has been dubbed the “SEC primary” because several Southern states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, are included.

Projected turnout for the election is 47 percent of the registered residents, 34,978 people, according to the Hall County Board of Elections and Registration. The county had 74,421 active voters as of November 2015. Sosebee noted the turnout numbers are “just my estimate.”

Only the Republicans had a competitive race in Hall in the 2012 presidential primary, which attracted 22,422 voters. The Democrats, with incumbent President Barack Obama solo on the ballot, drew only 620 voters.

The GOP had nine candidates on the ballot that year. Georgian Newt Gingrich dominated the primary, getting 54 percent of the total, 12,179 votes. Mitt Romney, the eventual party nominee, had 4,780 votes, 21 percent.

The 2016 Republican ballot has a crowd: 13 candidates, including five who already have dropped out.

Candidates still competing for the GOP nomination are Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump. Those who have dropped out are Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, George Pataki and Rick Santorum.

Democrats on the ballot include Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Michael Sternberg. Martin O’Malley also is on the ballot but has dropped out.

More candidates could drop out during Georgia’s early voting, especially with contests in New Hampshire on Tuesday and Nevada and South Carolina scheduled in February.

Votes for a candidate go to select delegates to each party’s national convention: some are “pledged” to candidates who win a congressional district; some support the winner of the statewide vote; and some are uncommitted.

Georgia’s Republicans and Democrats set the rules for choosing their delegates. Democrats have 116 delegates to their convention; Republicans have 76.

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