GRADY COUNTY CHIEF REGISTRAR Malinda Butler is busy making final preparations for the opening of advance voting on Monday. Voters can vote early in the county’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum and the City of Cairo’s general and special elections through Friday, Nov. 1. All advance voting takes place at the Board of Registrars Office, 24 Third Avenue N.E., behind the Grady County Courthouse.
Grady County’s 15,404 registered voters may begin casting ballots beginning Monday for the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum and voters in the City of Cairo can begin voting on Sunday alcoholic beverage sales by the package and/or the drink.
In three districts of the city, voters can also begin voting for their city council representative.
Advance voting for both the countywide referendum and the City of Cairo general and special election will take place at the Board of Registrars Office located at 24 Third Ave. N.E., behind the Grady County Courthouse.
The early voting for both the county and city elections is being managed by Chief Registrar Malinda Butler. She said this week that she has been busy making final preparations for the start of advance voting.
The early voting period kicks off at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 14 and runs through Friday, Nov. 1. The hours for advance voting are 8:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
City of Cairo voters are reminded that unless they vote early, some city residents will be required to go to the city polling place, which is the Grady County Agri-Center, on election day to vote in the city’s general and special election and to their respective county polling place, Holder Park (Cairo 4) or the Cairo Municipal Airport (Woodland) to vote in the countywide SPLOST referendum.
“Advance voting is the only time all eligible voters can go to one place and vote in both the countywide and city elections,” City of Cairo Election Superintendent Dana Barfield explained.
Countywide, voters are being asked to approve or reject a request by the Grady County Commission and the city councils of Cairo and Whigham to approve a one percent sales tax for the period of six years beginning April 1, 2020 when the existing one percent sales tax expires and terminating on March 31, 2026.
The tax would generate not more than $18,000,000 over the life of the tax. If approved, the county would use its share of the proceeds for construction and equipment; parks and recreation capital improvements; upgrade and replace public safety equipment; and payment of previously incurred debt. If imposition of the tax is approved by the voters, the county would also be authorized to issue up to $4,500,000 in general obligation debt for the purposes stated above.
The City of Cairo would invest its share of the sales tax collections for drinking water capital improvements; waste water capital improvements; buildings and parks capital improvements; public safety equipment; public works equipment; drainage and stormwater improvements; and payment of previously incurred debt. If imposition of the tax is approved by the voters, such vote shall also constitute approval of the issuance of general obligations debt of the City of Cairo in the principal amount of $3,000,000 for the above capital outlay purposes and for the payment of capitalized interest on such debt.
Lastly, the City of Whigham would use its share of the SPLOST for streets and sidewalks; utility distribution and equipment; and for public safety.
City of Cairo voters have two decisions to make with regards to Sunday alcohol sales. Voters are being asked to approve or reject the sale of alcoholic beverages by the package on Sundays between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Voters also will vote yes or no on whether or not alcoholic beverages may be sold by the drink on Sundays between the hours of 11 a.m. and 11:30 p.m.
Representatives of local restaurants and businesses requested the city council put the Sunday sales questions before the voters and they are backing passage of the two questions. Sunday sales of beer and wine is already legal in unincorporated Grady County, but within the corporate limits of Cairo, Sunday sales are currently illegal.
Voters in Districts 1, 3 and 5 of the City of Cairo will also decide who represents them on the Cairo City Council.
District 1, which includes a portion of northwest and southwest Cairo is currently represented by Mayor Pro Tem Lannis Thornton. He is being challenged by Alicia Gurley and Ann Williams, both political newcomers.
Cairo’s District 3 is primarily all of southeast Cairo and it is currently represented by Councilman Bobby Gwaltney. Gwaltney is being challenged by Timia Brown, who is a first-time candidate.
Cairo District 5 is mostly northwest Cairo and it is represented by Councilman Jerry Cox. Cox is being challenged by Emory Thomas Sr.
For voters who do not choose to vote early, election day is Tuesday, Nov. 5. All 13 of the county’s polling places will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Grady County’s Cairo 5 precinct is located at the Grady County Agri-Center, which is also home for all election day voting for the City of Cairo general and special elections. The main room of the Agri-Center will be divided up into two separate areas for the conducting of the countywide SPLOST referendum and on the other side of the room for the City of Cairo general and special election, according to Grady Election Superintendent Denise Maddox.
Elections officials remind city residents who wait until election day to vote and live in Grady County’s Cairo 4 precinct or the portion of the Woodland precinct located within the corporate limits of Cairo will have to go to the Agri-Center to vote in the city election and to their respective county polling place either Holder Park or the Cairo Municipal Airport to vote for the SPLOST. Voters who reside in Grady County’s Cairo 5 precinct already vote at the Agri-Center, so those city voters would not be impacted.
Local officials have expressed concern about a city and countywide election being held on the same day. Grady County Commission Chairwoman LaFaye Copeland recently urged as many voters as possible to take advantage of the advance voting, which will all be done in one location.
“Vote early and save a trip and eliminate confusion,” Chairwoman Copeland said recently.
Voters are also reminded to bring an accepted form of identification when voting. Proper identification required and accepted shall be:
A Georgia driver’s license which was properly issued by the appropriate state agency;
A valid identification card issued by a branch, department, agency, or entity of the State of Georgia, any other state, or the United States authorized by law to issue personal identification, provided that such identification card contains a photograph of the elector;
A valid United States passport;
A valid employee identification card containing a photograph of the elector and issued by any branch, department, agency, or entity of the United States government, this state, or any county, municipality, board, authority, or other entity of this state;
A valid United States military identification card, provided that such identification card contains a photograph of the elector; or
A valid tribal identification card containing a photograph of the elector.