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Gordon County has more than 12,000 additional voters registered in time for the presidential preference primary this year, compared to 2016, according to Shea Hicks, director/chair of the county’s Board of Elections and Voter Registration office.

Because the state does not require individuals to register with a political party, it’s hard to say what the increase from 21,821 active voters in March of 2016 to 34,310 this year might mean for current candidates, but Hicks did say the jump was impressive. The deadline to register for the presidential preference primary was Monday, Feb. 24.

Early voting for the presidential preference primary begins Monday and ends March 20. Voters can cast their ballots Monday-Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the government annex building, 101 S. Piedmont St. in Downtown Calhoun (behind the courthouse). Saturday voting is scheduled for March 14 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the same location. Election Day will be March 24.

There will be two ballots available to Georgia primary voters, one for each of the two major political parties. The Republican ballot will only include President Donald Trump, but the Democratic ballot will have 12 candidates to choose from, including some that have already or will have likely dropped from the race by March 24.

The candidates on the Democratic ballot include: Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, former Vice President Joe Biden, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, former U.S. Rep. John Delaney, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.

Among those, Bennet, Delaney, Patrick and Yang had already dropped. More are expected to remove themselves from the race following the results of Super Tuesday, when 14 states will hold their primaries on March 3.

Because Georgia doesn’t require voters to register with a party, voters can choose either ballot in the presidential preference primary.

Voters are required to present a photo ID when casting a ballot.

The state’s photo ID law allows registered voters to show:

♦ A state driver’s license — even if it’s expired

♦ Any valid state or federal government-issued photo ID (including a free ID card issued by your county registrar’s office or the Georgia Department of Driver Services)

♦ A valid U.S. passport

♦ A photo employee ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the federal government, state government or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of this state

♦ A valid U.S. military photo ID

♦ A valid tribal photo ID.

Additionally, the state of Georgia offers a free ID card which can be issued at any county registrar’s office or Department of Driver Services.

To obtain a free voter identification card, the voter must provide a photo identity document or approved non-photo identity document which includes full legal name and date of birth; documentation which shows the voters date of birth; evidence that the applicant is a registered voter; and documentation showing the applicant’s name and residential address.

The next deadline for voter registration will be April 20, which is the deadline to sign up in order to vote in the May 19 General Primary Election.

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