ELECTION 2008; Polls Open for Earlier Voting A New Law Allows Ballots to Be Cast Starting Monday; Officials Brace for Onslaught

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Byline: TERRY DICKSON

BRUNSWICK -- A few elections ago, Georgia instituted early voting.

Monday, polls will be open around the state for really early voting.

Under a law passed this year, voters can visit local election offices or use mail-in absentee ballots instead of waiting until the week before the Nov. 4 general election when advance voting takes place. Election officials say they expect 80 percent of voters to vote in November and are asking people to vote early to cut down on election day lines.

Formerly, voters had to be away from their election districts or disabled to avoid going to the polls on election day. Only those with valid reasons could obtain absentee ballots and vote by mail. But no more.

"There's no reason required," said Cindy Robinson, director of the Glynn County Board of Elections. "They will need a photo ID."

Although the rules are the same, Secretary of State Karen Handel is making a distinction between the so-called early voting that starts Monday and the advance voting that will begin Oct. 27.

The only difference in Glynn County will be the number of voting places. The only poll open in the first stages will be at election headquarters at 1815 Gloucester St. Beginning Oct. 27, Glynn County will add two more voting places, at the public safety complex at 121 Public Safety Blvd. north of Brunswick and on St. Simons Island at Fire Station No. 2, 1929 Demere Road.

In Ware County, election officials have been working to implement recently approved changes in County Commission districts. That has meant changing voting precincts for about 3,500 voters, officials said.

"We have worked some very long hours," said Betty Gillis, supervisor of elections for the county. …