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Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 11:38am

Qualifying For Elections Begins

Candidates across Georgia will descend on the state Capitol and local election offices starting Wednesday to declare themselves for local, state and Congressional races. When the qualifying period closes on Friday, campaigning will begin in earnest for the July 31st primary.

Candidates will file paperwork to prove they live in the districts they want to run in. They’re also required to pay fees to offset election costs.

Chris Kelleher is with the Georgia Republican Party, which oversees qualifying for statewide G.O.P. races.

He says in some cases he expects three or four candidates to qualify for a single race. The volume of state races is high this year because all General Assembly members run at the same time.

“We’ve got over 200 races just in the Georgia General Assembly," he said in a telephone interview. "Then we’ve got 14 congressional districts that are going to be up this year. Statewide, fortunately most of those races were in 2010. We only have the two public service commissioners who are up for re-election this year.”

While qualifying for legislative and congressional races is taking place at the state Capitol, most local school board and county commission candidates will file paperwork at their local boards of elections.

Gail Schrader heads the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections. She says the three-day qualifying period kicks off a sprint to the primary in July.

“We’ll be busy compiling all of the ballots that we’ll use in our county," she said. "We’ll have ballot-proofing and printing, and we’ve already received requests for absentee ballots to be mailed.”

Under the Voting Rights Act, the U.S. Department of Justice has to approve Georgia’s election maps.

Statewide maps got the okay last year, but the DOJ only approved local Athens maps this week. Officials in Savannah are still awaiting approval of their local maps.

Local election boards are sending revised precinct cards to voters to reflect new district maps re-drawn last year with new census data.

Anyone wanting to vote in the July primary needs to register by July 2.

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