November 5, 2012

Tuesday’s ballots not without intrigue

When Whitfield and Murray County voters go to the polls on Tuesday, the presidential race will be at the top of the ticket. But the real intrigue may be further down the ballot.

Recent polls show former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, with a strong lead in the Peach State over President Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate. For instance, a SurveyUSA poll taken last week shows Romney leading Obama 52 percent to 44 percent among likely voters. The Huffington Post’s election dashboard, based on the latest polls, shows Romney leading 53.3 percent to 42.6 percent for Obama in Georgia.

Gary Johnson, former New Mexico governor and the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate, will also be on the ballot in Georgia.

Georgians will also vote on an intensely discussed constitutional amendment that would allow the state to create a commission that could approve charter schools. Local school boards can already approve charter schools. Supporters of the measure say it would give parents more choice. Opponents say it would take money from public schools, a charge proponents deny.

The latest SurveyUSA poll shows 39 percent of likely voters say they will vote for the measure and 29 percent say they will vote against it. But with a full third of likely voters saying they aren’t certain how they will vote, the amendment’s fate is definitely up in the air.

In addition to state and national questions, Whitfield and Murray voters will vote on several regional and local races.

Voters in our two counties, along with the rest of Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, will decide between Republican incumbent Tom Graves of Ranger and Democrat Danny Grant, an electrician who lives in Ringgold.

Some Murray County voters will choose between incumbent Republican John Meadows and Democrat Howard Johnson for state House of Representatives District 5. That district includes western Gordon County and part of southwest Murray County.

Each county also has a contested sheriff’s race. In Whitfield County, Democratic incumbent Scott Chitwood faces former sheriff Jim Stafford, a Republican. In Murray County, Democratic incumbent Howard Ensley faces Republican Gary Langford, a retired law enforcement officer who spent most of his career with the Georgia State Patrol.

Whitfield County voters will choose between incumbent Republican Thomas Barton and Democrat Nicky Starling in the race for Board of Education District 1.

And in Murray County, Tax Commissioner Charlotte Keener, a Democrat, faces Republican challenger Kay Leonard McCurdy, and Clerk of Superior Court Connie Gallman Reed, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican Donna Flood.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Voters need to bring one of the six accepted forms of photo identification. They are: a valid state or federal government-issued photo ID; a Georgia driver’s license, even if it’s expired; a valid employee photo ID from any local, state or federal government; a valid U.S. passport; a valid U.S. military photo ID; or a valid tribal photo ID.

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