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Critical elections will be held in 2012

ELECTION SUPERINTENDENT Sadie Voyles, center, and her staff are busy prepping for the upcoming Presidential Preference Primary. Probate Court Clerk Denise Maddox, and Grady County Registrar Lizzie Garrette, right, perform logic and accuracy testing on an absentee ballot.

Election Superintendent Sadie Voyles and her staff are busy gearing up for a busy election year with the first contest just over a month away.
Grady County voters will go to the polls in the coming weeks to vote in the Presidential Preference Primary. Also on the ballot for the March 6 election will be a referendum on renewing the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) penny sales tax.
If approved by the voters, the penny sales tax will be levied for an additional six years and over the life of the tax the maximum amount to be collected would be $18,000,000.
County leaders have asked for the SPLOST referendum in advance of an upcoming Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales (TSPLOST) tax referendum that will either be held in July or in November. This tax is a regional sales tax to be used to fund transportation projects both locally and in the southwest Georgia region. State leaders have remained split over the date of the TSPLOST referendum, but a decision in the General Assembly will likely be made soon.
However, voters across the state will be voting on the TSPLOST at the same time, but for projects in their respective regions and communities.
The local SPLOST will be split by Grady County and the cities of Whigham and Cairo. Grady County commissioners plan to invest the proceeds of the tax in roads and bridges, to upgrade and replace public safety equipment and to pay off $15 million in revenue bonds issued for the construction of the 960-acre Tired Creek Lake.
The Cairo City Council has identified drinking water capital improvements; waste water treatment capital improvements; public safety and public works equipment purchases; and debt service on the city’s long-term debt as projects to be funded by the penny sales tax if approved by local voters.
The Whigham City Council also plans to invest the sales tax proceeds in streets, sidewalks, curbs and gutters, as well as for the purchase of public safety equipment and upgrading the city’s utility distribution infrastructure.
If you are not registered to vote, you have until Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, to do so. You may register to vote at the Registrar’s Office at the Grady County Courthouse.
Early voting for the Presidential Preference Primary and the SPLOST referendum will begin on Monday, Feb. 13, and will end on Friday, March 2. You may vote during that period, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. in the Registrar’s Office at the courthouse.
For the first time, a special day of Saturday voting will take place on Saturday, Feb. 25, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the courthouse.
Absentee voting by mail opened Saturday, Jan. 21, and voters may request an absentee ballot through Friday, March 2.
The absentee ballot must be returned to the registrar’s office by the close of polls on election day, March 6. Absentee ballots cast by overseas and military voters must be postmarked on or before March 6, but will be accepted through the end of business on March 9.
According to elections officials, a voter is not required to provide a reason for requesting an absentee ballot.
Election Superintendent Voyles has scheduled a training session for new poll workers to be held on Friday, Feb. 10, at 2 p.m. If you are interested in serving as a poll worker, contact the election superintendent at 229-377-4621.
In addition to the hotly contested election for President of the United States, a full slate of local offices are up for grabs.
Elections will be held this year for Grady County Commissioners – Districts 1, 3 and 4; Grady County Board of Education – Districts 1, 3 and 4; Grady County Sheriff; Grady County Chief Magistrate; Grady County Probate Judge; Grady County Clerk of Court; Grady County Tax Commissioner; and Grady County Coroner.
The Grady County Board of Commissioners is currently evaluating a proposal to submit local legislation to the Georgia General Assembly in order to consolidate probate and magistrate court and possibly even Grady County State Court.
County commissioners last week set the qualifying fees for local offices including: county commissioner – $54; school board member – $18; sheriff – $1,779.87; magistrate – $1,491.65; probate judge – $1,491.65; clerk of court – $1,491.65; tax commissioner – $1,491.65; and coroner – $108.00.
Qualifying for local offices will open at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 23, and will conclude on Friday, May 25, at noon. The Georgia legislature reduced the qualifying period from five days to three last year.
The date for the General Primary Election is Tuesday, July 31, and the General Election will be on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Local candidates who have announced their intention to run for office this year are: Chief Magistrate Larry Bearden; Celeste Chason Tyler, who plans to run for probate judge; and Jairam Queen Sr., who has announced his intention to run for sheriff.

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