election roundup

Glynn County Public Works employees return voting machines and polling equipment back to the Board of Elections Nov. 7.

The Glynn County Board of Elections reported the final number of votes cast in the county early Wednesday morning, a process delayed by record midterm election turnout.

The results of all local races have been fully reported, with the exception of provisional ballots.

In county Board of Education races, Republican Mike Hulsey garnered 19,224 votes, 60 percent, for the At-large Post 1 seat to Democrat Markisha Butler’s 12,591, 40 percent.

In the board’s District 2 race, Republican Eaddy Sams pulled in 7,908 votes to Sharon Robinson’s 2,696. In the District 4 race, Republican Hank Yeargan took the win with 2,553 votes to Democrat Regina Johnson’s 2,441, much closer at 51 percent to 49 percent.

Republican David O’Quinn defeated Democrat Julian Smith the race for the Glynn County Commission’s At-large Post 1 seat. O’Quinn attracted 21,189 voters, while Smith earned 10,811 votes, 66 percent and 34 percent respectively.

Voters in District 3 picked Republican Wayne Neal to serve on their district’s county commission seat. Neal earned 4,268 votes to Democrat Barbara Baisden’s 1,724, 71 percent and 29 percent respectively.

Current county commission Chairman Bill Brunson, representing District 4, ran unopposed and will retain his seat.

A referendum on whether or not to increase the hours restaurants can sell alcohol on Sunday passed in both the city of Brunswick and the county. In the city 2,393 people, 65 percent, voted in favor, 1,312 against. Roughly 67 percent of county residents who voted on the referendum were in favor of it, 21,235 people in total.

About 10,630 voted against the referendum.

The results of state and national races can also be found on the board’s website, glynncounty.org/78/Board-of-Elections.

About 183 provisional ballots are left to count as of Wednesday morning, said Chris Channell, assistant supervisor of election and registration, not enough to tip the scales in any local elections. He said the final and complete vote count will be available by Nov. 13.

Registration numbers increased greatly over previous elections. As of Tuesday, the board had 54,274 registered and active voters on its rolls. With 32,611 of those voting, turnout ended up around 60.1 percent.

Votes cast in the 2018 midterm elections rivaled that of presidential elections and put past midterms to shame.

While the turnout percentage was higher in the 2016 presidential election, the actual number of votes was not too far behind in this election. the board of elections’ records indicate 44,972 were registered and active in 2016, and 34,583 cast votes putting turnout at 76.9 percent.

As of the 2014 midterm elections, 45,099 county residents were registered and active. Total votes came out to 20,530, or 45.5 percent turnout.

Turnout in the 2012 presidential election shook out to 70.9 percent, with 46,963 registered and active voters casting 33,286 ballots.

The midterm elections in 2010 and the presidential election in 2008 followed similar trends. Of 43,606 registered and active voters, 21,764 voted in 2010 amounting to a 49.9 percent turnout. In 2008, 33,520 of 45,473 registered and active voters, 73.7 percent, turned out.

“(It was) the most votes we’ve seen in a midterm election,” said Elections and Registration Supervisor Monica Couch.

Members of both the local Republican and Democratic parties said they’ve seen plenty of evidence of higher voter participation.

“We saw higher numbers, we had more people registered to vote than in the ’16 election,” said Audrey Gibbons, chairwoman of the Glynn County Democratic Party. “We did see more voters register this year, we helped more people register and gave more rides to the polls.”

She said the party will continue its efforts, focusing more on educating people on the responsibilities of public office and each office’s importance.

“All of us are disappointed, but none of us are discouraged,” Gibbons said.

The Glynn County Republican Party saw a similar boost in registrations.

“We’ve been working really hard this whole year and a half to get more Republicans involved,” said Ginny Hall, chairwoman of the Republican party.

Numerous people that haven’t been involved in politics have come out to vote and attend Republican functions since the 2016 election, Hall said.

A number of factors were likely involved, she said, including the party’s efforts to increase its presence online through email and social media. A feeling among Republic voters that their values are under attack is another likely reason, Hall said.

“I feel like we’ve just started the ball rolling. And its just growing, the excitement and participation is growing,” Hall said.

Couch said the high turnout caught elections staff by surprise in the beginning, but that they caught up quickly.

“Initially I don’t think we expected such a big turnout. Again, the planning on some sides was really good but in some aspects, like the tabulation side, we could have started earlier or had another (ballot-counting) machine. We were there later than I would have liked because we were counting ballots,” she said.

Glynn County Board of Elections personnel didn’t leave the office until 2:34 a.m. Wednesday morning, Channell said.

“I think essentially the poll workers came through and did an outstanding job. There weren’t a whole lot of incidents. It didn’t go bad,” Couch said. “Overall I think it went really well. Just the tabulation took longer than I expected.”

Hiring more personnel or automating more of the process — such as offering digital voter registration cards — will likely come up at the Board of Elections’ meeting next week.

“We will talk about that some at the next meeting. I think that’s something we’re going to make happen,” Couch said.

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