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Nov. 6 - Understanding the FIRST Votes That Will Come in Tonight

Category: Local Govts & Politics

By Lou Phelps, CEN

November 6, 2018 - The polls in Chatham County are open until 7 p.m. tonight. Whoever is in line at that time will be allowed to vote.
The next step is counting all the votes, a multi-step process.

All of the early votes cast on machines over the past three weeks will be the first votes to be loaded in and will appear on the Board of Elections broadcast on Chatham County's cable channel. The votes will also appear right afterward on the Secretary of State's website, where votes are reported by county. 

Because of the high percentage of early votes cast in a number of area counties, those first votes may give an indication of how several local elections will end up, including the State House District race between Rep. Ron Stephens (R) and Alicia Scott (D), both residents of Georgetown in Southwest Chatham County. That House seat district also includes all of Bryan County and one precinct in Liberty County. 
Political pundits will also be looking for early indicators in the State Senate GA-1 race between Sen Ben Watson (R) and challenger Sandra Workman (D). 

All absentee paper ballots will be opened at 7:00 p.m., unfolded, reviewed, scanned, and tabulated. A very large number of ballots were returned this year, which means it will take a long time tonight to count them all, and then upload results.

Next to be reported will be the numbers from each polling location. When the polls are closed, each poll manager brings the discs from the voting machines to the Chatham County election headquarters on Eisenhower Drive. Those discs are processed, the numbers are uploaded by polling location, and uploaded to the SOS's central computers in Atlanta. 

Last votes to be counted are Provisional ballots. Those are paper ballots, where there was some issue with a voter's registration. The polling warden makes a decision on whether to let a person vote. Those decisions are later reviewed by the members of the Board of Elections.
The FINAL vote numbers in any election are not certified for several days, a process completed by Russell Bridges in Chatham County.

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