Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday in voting precincts in District 30. In Carroll County, all precincts except Fairfield, Hulett, Lowell and Whitesburg, will be voting. The district also includes Douglas and Paulding counties.
But a major campaign hurdle seems to be making voters aware that there’s really an election coming up in just a few days.
“I’m encountering people who think we already won since we had such a large vote margin,” said Bill Hembree, of Winston, a former state House member who led with 48.3 percent of the Nov. 6 vote among four candidates. “I tell them, ‘Thank you for voting for us, but we need your vote again.’”
His challenger, Mike Dugan, a political newcomer, who captured 24.3 percent of the vote, finds a similar challenge.
“I’m talking with people, reminding them there’s an election,” Dugan said. “Before the last election, there was a long buildup. I think part of the problem has to do with the Thanksgiving holiday and some lost days. We need to get people back out there.”
The candidates also face voter burnout, with the runoff coming on the heels of a much publicized presidential race that drew more than 70 percent voter turnout. Runoff elections often have voter turnouts as low as 10 percent.
If last week’s advance voting is an indication, the turnout Tuesday could be very light.
When advance voting closed Friday, only 922 people had cast ballots in Carroll County. There are 52,412 eligible Carroll County voters, according to county Elections Supervisor Becky Deese.
Carroll County has the largest block of eligible voters in District 30, with Paulding second with 21,155 and Douglas, 20,803.
Both candidates plan to stay on the campaign trail until election day, shaking hands and delivering their messages on why they deserve the votes.
Hembree, 46, a Douglas County insurance agent who resigned from the Georgia House in September to enter the Senate race, emphasizes his 18-years of experience as a lawmaker and his conservative credentials.
“People know me and know I’m a conservative,” Hembree said. “They can trust me to get the job done because I have a proven track record. I’m not going to change. I’ll be honest with people on the issues.”
Hembree said he believes people know that local government impacts their lives and that will bring them out to vote.
“They know I’ll be a state senator who is there for them, so their voices can be heard,” he said.
Dugan, 49, a Carrollton building contractor and retired military officer, plays up his outsider credentials, offering voters a new face and a fresh approach to politics.
“If voters want something other than business as usual, I’m offering something different,” he said. “We need to do better in government, to get it back to where it should be, so peoples’ voices are represented.”
Dugan has pledged to hold regular town hall meeting, if elected, work for term limits and put a cap on lobbyist gifts.
Voters who were registered by Oct. 9 can vote in the runoff, regardless of whether they voted in the Nov. 6 election.
Voters will need to have a photo ID to vote. Acceptable photo IDs include: any valid state or federal government issued photo ID, including a free voter ID card issued by the county registrar’s office; Georgia driver’s license, even if expired; valid employee photo ID from any federal, state, city, county or municipal agency; valid U.S. passport; valid U.S. military photo ID; or valid tribal photo ID.
The winner of Tuesday’s runoff will have one more election to go, a Jan. 8 match with Libertarian candidate James Camp of Temple.
Potential voters who want to cast a ballot in the Jan. 8 election still have until Dec. 10 to register.