Apply online, via phone or email

Pierce County Board of Elections is encouraging Pierce Countians to request absentee ballots for the presidential preference primary (PPP) and the general primary election, both set for May 19.

The PPP was initially set for yesterday, March 24, but Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger issued an order to postpone the presidential preference primary last Saturday amidst growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot for the general primary election is Friday, May 15.

Residents can register to vote and request an absentee ballot online at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov. The direct link to the ballot request form is: https://sos.ga.gov/…/f…/Absentee_Ballot_Application_2018.pdf

Elections Superintendent Leah Ritch encourages voters to request their absentee ballot via the MVP page, print out the application, complete it and fax to 912-807-9940. The request can also be mailed to the Pierce County Courthouse Annex at 312 Nichols Street Suite 2, Blackshear, GA 31516.

Voters can also call the Board of Elections at 912-449-2028 to request an absentee ballot or request one by email to Lea.Parker@piercecountyga.gov or Leah.Ritch@piercecountyga.gov.

Ritch encourages young, able-bodied voters to complete the application process online, although senior voters may still call the elections office to request their ballot.

Ritch stresses voters have to mark which party they are requesting an absentee ballot for – Republican, Democrat or non-partisan – in order for Voter Registrar Lea Parker to process the request.

Georgians can also request absentee ballots for family members. Georgia is a “no excuse” state which means voters can request an absentee ballot for any reason at all.

President Trump is running unopposed on the Republican ballot for the PPP.

There are 12 candidates listed on the Democratic ballot, although the race is basically down to a two-man contest between former vice president Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Candidates include Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, Biden, Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg,  Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg,  Maryland Congressman John DeLaney, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Sanders, California Businessman Tom Steyer, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Businessman Andrew Yang. All of which have since dropped out of the race.

Four contested races will be on the ballot in the May 19 general and non-partisan primary election including Pierce County Sheriff, county coroner, District One school board seat, District One county commission seat.

Only the Sheriff and coroner’s races are county-wide. The other two contested races will be decided only by voters who live in District One.

Sheriff Ramsey Bennett will be running for a third term. He is being challenged by Major Robby Boatright of the Blackshear Police Department, Retired Department of Natural Resources Ranger Gary Simmons and retired state trooper Greg Stone. All are running as Republicans.

Coroner William Wilson is being challenged by  Bill Cselle, former deputy coroner, county commissioner and school board member, and Mandy Alvey Smith, a registered nurse. All three are running as Republicans.

County Commissioner Harold Rozier Jr. faces a challenge from retired GBI agent Weyland Yeomans for the Republican nomination. The winner of that race will face Democrat Tyrone Harris in the November general election.

Realtor Kirby Malone, counselor Thomansine McGauley Ricks and retired law enforcement officer Steve Whitehead signed up to run for the District One Board of Education seat. Current district one representative Jack Saussy announced two weeks ago he would not run for another term. The school board is non-partisan.

A number of incumbents  are all running unopposed and will be sworn in to new terms in January 2021. They include  Clerk of Court Thomas W. Sauls, Tax Commissioner Terresa Davis, Surveyor Stephen Duncan, Magistrate Judge Glenda Dowling and Probate Judge Moye Howard. Sauls, Davis and Duncan are Republicans. The Magistrate and Probate Judge positions are non-partisan.

In District Three, county commissioner Randy Dixon  and school board member Chip Griner are both running unopposed.