GETTING THE VOTE OUT are volunteers, from the left, front to back, Billy Ward, Bridgett Harrell with her two daughters, Callahan and Arrington, and Kathie Adams; second row, Melbah Andrews and Pam Bridges; third row, Juliet Richards, Linda Skidmore and Susan Ralph; and back row, Melinda Conger and Janice Kell.
Members of a Decatur County book club and friends want to turn the page on voter apathy, so they are staging nine voter registration drives throughout Bainbridge beginning Saturday, Sept. 1.
Kathie Adams, who is coordinating her group of volunteers with the Decatur County Elections Office, said the rate of voter apathy in the United States is appalling.
“I just felt motivated to do something, anything, to help our country and our democracy,” Adams said. She cited figures that the 2016 presidential voter turnout was down 19 percent compared to 2012. In Decatur County for the 2016 presidential election, turnout was 74.9 percent and statewide turnout was 76.5 percent. During the last midterm election in 2014, Decatur County’s was almost 46.3 percent and statewide turnout was just barely above 50 percent.
“I decided I could help ensure that every citizen has the ability to vote, and I received tremendous support from a group of book club friends,” Adams said. “Together we feel voting is the most effective way to have our voices heard, to have a say in the direction of our country.”
Adams, Susan Ralph, Janice Kell, Melbah Andrews, Billy Ward, Linda Skidmore, Valerie Bush, Bridgett Harrell, Juliet Richards and Melinda Conger recently completed a short course and were sworn in as deputy registrars. Some of the volunteers – Ralph, Kell, Andrews and Ward – are also poll workers. Pam Bridges from Seminole County is also going to assist.
As deputy registrars, the volunteers swore to adhere to Georgia law dealing with elections that include not engaging in any political activity on behalf of a candidate, political party or body, or question, and ensuring voter registration forms are properly handled.
They are volunteering to staff the following voter registration and information drives:
Sept. 1, Saturday – Winn-Dixie – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sept. 7, Friday – Walmart – 12 noon to 6 p.m.
Sept. 8, Saturday – Belk – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sept. 14, Friday – Walmart – 12 noon to 6 p.m.
Sept. 15, Saturday – Winn-Dixie – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sept. 22, Saturday – Walmart – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sept. 25, Tuesday – Walmart – 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. This is also National Voter Registration Day.
Sept. 29, Saturday – Belk – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Oct. 6, Saturday – Walmart – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The volunteers can assist voters with updating their information such as updating an address. The volunteers can check on a voter’s status through the Georgia My Voter Page app. There also will be information and applications for voters who prefer to vote with a mail-in absentee ballot.
Registration deadline is Oct. 9
The deadline to register or change information on a voter’s record is Tuesday, Oct. 9.
Advance voting for the Nov. 6th General Election begins on Monday, Oct. 15. Hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday with Saturday early voting on Oct. 27, with its hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Early voting locations are the Elections Office in the Courthouse Annex at 122 W. Water St. and the Fairgrounds polling location at 1211 Vada Road.
Decatur County currently has approximately 15,000 registered voters with more than 5,000 additional residents who are of voting-age but not registered. Adams hopes she and her friends shrink that number, as well as remind citizens of the importance of their vote.
“We plan to encourage every person to vote! We believe that voting is our right, our privilege and our duty,” Adams said. “We hope to enable every eligible voter to go to the polls or vote by absentee ballot, not only for this election but for all elections going forward.”