October 17, 2006
Three weeks from today, you will head to the polls for the November general election.
Absentee voting is underway, but the Richmond County Board of Elections is seeing a snag already.
You may not be prepared for just how long the ballot is for this election.
You'll have to go through nine amendments and referendums before you can even vote for mayor of Augusta.
And what you don't know could cost you a lot of time.
First there are the hotly contested, highly known governor and mayoral races. Then there are the not-so-known and downright who-the-heck-are-they seats.
Add to that several more judicial seats that haven't been on a November ballot in years and a SPLOST referendum that takes up an entire column of its own, and you've got one of the longest sample ballots that's come through Augusta's election office in 28 years.
"We've noticed people who've come in, it's taking ten to 15 minutes to vote," said Director of Elections Lynn Bailey.
Just ask Leatrice Gardner, a self-proclaimed speed reader who admits she's been defeated by the ballot.
"Some of the issues I hadn't heard of," she said. "There were some I didn't even know were an issue, so yeah some were a surprise."
Bailey says he two most common questions absentee voters have been baffled by so far are SPLOST and the Redevelopment Powers Law.
"When we get to those questions, just reading them is going to take five to seven minutes itself, not including the decision you have to make," she said. "It's quite lengthy."
But she says one way to avoid that problem is through a few simple clicks of the mouse.
"Our website gives you all the information, including what precincts you're in."
This November's absentee ballots are three pages long. On the voting machines, it will be ten pages.
So the bottom line is, educate yourself before you go to vote so you don't waste your time or anybody else's.