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List of candidates, questions must follow rules
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Early voting

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through Nov. 2 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Hall County Board of Elections Office, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville
More info: 770-531-6945, csosebee@hallcounty.org, www.hallcounty.org/judicial/jud_elections.asp
Go to gainesvilletimes.com/earlyvoting for information on voting in other counties.

With just more than a week left before Election Day, many local residents have already tapped in their votes. And while they likely put some thought into their choices on the various races and ballot questions, they may not have thought about how that ballot was created in the first place. Below is a look at the rules and various procedures that guide the creation of Georgia’s ballot, including why candidates are listed in the order they are and who writes the ballot question text.  

Why do some candidates’ names have middle names or initials and others don’t?

According to the Georgia Code of Elections, “a candidate’s name shall always appear in the following form: given or first name or initial, if desired by the candidate; middle name or names or initials, if desired by the candidate; nickname, if desired by the candidate; and last or surname in full.” The total number of characters, including letters, punctuation and spaces, allowed for a candidate’s name is 25. Candidates cannot include any titles, degrees or military ranks.

How are the names on the ballots ordered?

Georgia ballots do not list candidates in alphabetical order, instead it depends on the sitting governor of the state, Hall County Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said. “In a general election, the party of the governor currently in office is listed first,” she said. “Since our governor is Republican, then the Republican candidate is listed first.”

How are the offices on the ballots ordered?

Sosebee said offices are ordered by federal, state then county. For example, voters would see options for the president, then any state seats such as public service commissioners and then a list of county seats.

What happened to straight-party or straight-ticket voting?

Georgia abolished straight-party voting in 1994, Sosebee said. The practice allowed voters to choose a party and have votes cast for every candidate representing that party. .
Sosebee said not many states have straight-party voting ballots any more. Texas, Michigan, North Carolina and West Virginia still give voters that option.

Who authors the ballot text?

The ballot text is written per the election code of Georgia according to Chris Perlera with the Secretary of State’s office. Sosebee said ballots are built by the Center for Elections at Kennesaw State University.  
“The (Hall County) ballots are proofed by me, then I present a  sign-off agreeing that the information on the ballot is correct,” she said.  

Who writes the amendment questions and summaries above the amendments?

Some questions are written by politicians and some are written by attorneys, Sosebee said. Perlera said the amendments are written using the Georgia Election Code.
“Constitutional amendments are written by the constitutional publication board also per (the) Georgia constitution,” he said.

What percentage of votes do uncontested candidates need to win?

Perlera said candidates running uncontested only need a single vote to win that position.

Why do some offices on the ballot force voters to select two candidates instead of having two separate slots for the voting?

Sosebee said the election commission requested voters select two candidates to fill two positions that are open on boards. This year, only the Soil & Water Conservation is listed to select two on the ballot, she said.    

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