Macon Mall voting location.

The Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections plans to distribute intermittent voter tallies on paper for the public Tuesday night at their Macon Mall location.

Credit: Liz Fabian

Macon-Bibb County’s elections supervisor is warning voters to do a little homework before heading to the polls to make sure they receive the correct ballot and vote for the right candidates.  

In this first major election since recent redistricting, issues linger with ballot confusion that began with advanced voting on April 29. 

In the final hour of early voting Friday, Macon-Bibb County’s Board of Elections learned of another case of a voter being given an incorrect ballot for her address. 

Macon-Bibb County Commission District 8 candidate Donice Bryant reported irregularities to Elections Supervisor Tom Gillon.

“Everybody’s coming in to vote for me and I’m not on the ballot,” Bryant said of a supporter. “She’s in (District) 8 and they gave her a ballot to vote for Seth Clark, and I don’t like it.” 

Gillon took Bryant into his office where he confirmed the mistake. 

“It’s our responsibility to get the ballots right,” Gillon said. “It’s also the voter’s responsibility to know whose district they’re in.”

Macon County Board of Election sign

Macon-Bibb Elections Supervisor Tom Gillon recommends checking the My Voter Page of the Secretary of State’s website to confirm individual district numbers to double-check ballots.

Credit: Liz Fabian

He suggests everyone visit Georgia Secretary of State’s My Voter Page, submit their name and date of birth, view their precinct card and take note of the precinct location and local, state and congressional district numbers.  

When voting, make sure the districts on the ballot match voting districts on the online precinct card. 

If a voter discovers an incorrect ballot, report it immediately and do not cast the vote.

“If a voter brings it to us, we can rectify it,” Gillon said. 

That wasn’t the case for Bryant’s supporter, who cast her ballot without voting in the commission race since she didn’t see Bryant’s name and didn’t recognize the other names on the ballot. 

Bryant knows of others who were given a District 6 ballot instead of District 8 during early voting. 

She wants to file an injunction and halt the election.

With Macon-Bibb County experiencing an IT network disruption that began May 11, there’s too much uncertainty, she said. 

Donice Bryant

Donice Bryant said voting should be halted due to ballot confusion after redistricting.

Credit: Liz Fabian

“I think the voting should stop until they get all these things situated,” Bryant said. “I understand that the internet has been down that affects the whole wide city government, so at this point how do we know that all the votes are getting in?”

Gillon said the county’s internet issues did not affect their ability to handle voters.

The ballot mix-ups are due to redrawing Georgia House lines very late in the process, plus the employee they had working on redistricting quit during the process of verifying the county’s 110,000 voters, he said.


Partisan political confusion

Most of Macon-Bibb County’s local elections are nonpartisan, but not the sheriff’s race. 

Those wishing to have a say in choosing the next sheriff must choose a Democrat ballot no matter their political leanings. 

If Macon-Bibb County Republicans in Congressional District 2 want to have input on who will challenge Sanford Bishop in November, they lose a voice in the sheriff’s contest. 

Selecting a party affiliate also means you are bound by that choice in any runoff. 

If the Bibb sheriff’s race goes to a runoff, no one who selected a Republican ballot will be eligible to vote in that contest which will decide who will be sheriff as there is no Republican candidate in November. 

Both parties have different straw polls on their ballots, but results are likely to be skewed in the crossover voting.

Between April 29 and Friday, 6,613 early votes were cast in Macon-Bibb County, compared to 5,906 in early voting the 2020 race, according to the Board of Elections. 

As for absentee ballot requests, the office issued 1,482 as of Friday.

Tuesday night, Gillon plans to provide a few tabulation updates during vote counting which is done in a room with windows for transparency at the new office at Macon Mall.

Although there is plenty of space for a crowd in the lobby of the new location under Burlington in the old Sears store, Gillon said there are no special plans for a viewing party, but all are welcome.

This story comes to GPB through a partnership with the Macon Newsroom.