Sure, you’ve already voted a few times this year. But the political season is just heating up.
Fresh off of Tuesday’s special election runoff, local elections offices are already preparing for the upcoming primary election.
The July 20 primary — which will include a number of statewide and local races — will likely be even more important than the general election in a number of races, said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia.
“In a lot of our state districts, one party is so dominant that whoever wins the primary is almost certain to be elected in November,” Bullock said. “The primary is where the real battle will be fought.”
For many of the races, there are no incumbent candidates and many will include incumbents that were either appointed or elected only to serve out the short remainder of a vacated term.
Bullock said fewer incumbents could mean a more active primary election.
“People are more likely to run when there’s an open seat than take on an incumbent. More competition, all other things being equal, should increase participation,” Bullock said.
Candidate advertising — especially for the bigger races — is likely to pick up dramatically over the next few weeks, which should also increase voter participation.
“What that does is it creates a situation in which you may not care about some of the contests, but there’s one of them where you know a candidate or you’ve heard about the candidate, something’s clicked with you, so you want to make sure you go and vote in that contest. Once you’re there, you may go and vote for a whole range of offices,” Bullock said.
Just Tuesday, voters went out to vote in a special election to fill the 9th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
But early voting for the July 20 primary was already under way.
Hall County Interim Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said her office is doing a number of things to get ready for the primary, which will be a much larger-scale election.
The elections office is testing touch screen voting machines, training poll workers and packing precinct supplies.
“It’s almost like a circle. It never ends,” Sosebee said. “There’s just so much to do but there’s so much that’s already been done.”
Sosebee said the office is planning to hire more poll workers for the primary election.
“We’re planning a poll worker job fair,” she said.
Sosebee expects a lot of people will go out to the polls July 20 to vote in the gubernatorial race.
“Some of the calls we get are, ‘when do we vote for governor?’” Sosebee said. “There’s a lot of interest in that.”
Barbara Luth, Forsyth County supervisor of voter registrations and elections, said her office will be very busy between now and July 20.
“The primary is a little more complicated because it’s like holding two elections at once,” Luth said. “You’re holding one for the Republican party and one for the Democratic party. They have to choose their ballots when they go to the polls and we have to have two sets of ballots so it’s almost double what you’re doing for a general or special election. There’s just a whole lot more people on the ballot.”
Luth said the large number of candidates will likely lead to a runoff.
“It’s a busy year,” she said.