Voters in Newton County may drop absentee ballots in the secure ballot box at the north entrance to the county Administration Building. Advance in-person voting begins Monday.

COVINGTON— Advance voting in the June 9 primary elections begins Monday, May 18, with three ways to vote. Advance voting runs through June 5.

In Newton County, voters may cast a ballot in person at the Newton County Administration Building, 1113 Usher St. Only four voters will be allowed inside the voting room at a time, along with five poll workers. Due to space and CDC guidelines, the Board of Elections will have six voting machines available during advance voting.

Visitors to the Administration Building for voting will be asked to enter through the north entrance and will be asked to wait 6 feet apart in accordance with Centers for Disease Control guidelines. A large tent will be located at the entrance of the building for voting to keep the voters protected from the elements such as the sun and possible rain. Social distancing will be enforced under the tent as well.

There will be hand sanitizing stations available, and all poll workers will be wearing masks.

Hours for in-person voting are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday with the exception of May 25, in observance of Memorial Day. Advance voting will also be available Saturday, May 30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Voters may also drop off absentee ballots in a sealed ballot box located in front of the north door of the Administration Building.

Mail-in ballots are also being accepted by the Newton County Board of Elections and Registration. To request an absentee ballot application please call 770-784-2055.

In Rockdale County, early in-person voting will take place at 1400 Parker Road, Conyers. Voters will be required to check in at a large tent when they arrive. They will fill out a form with their name, cell phone number, and make and model of their vehicle, then will be asked to wait in their vehicle. In the order of their arrival, when it is their turn to go in and vote, a text will be sent to them.

Voters will be escorted into the building in groups of 10 to 15 people for their information to be processed, and then to vote. There are 20 voting machines. Once a group completes its process and goes to vote, a second group will be allowed in to begin processing.

Voters need to realize that this is not what they are used to with advance voting and that there will be delays and lines. Any voter who cannot wait can request an absentee ballot and one will be mailed to them.

Voters are strongly encouraged to wear masks for their own safety and for the safety of poll workers. The average age of poll workers is 65 and they are volunteers. Poll workers will have face shields, masks and gloves. Voters will be provided one glove and a stylus to use with the voting machines, and the machines will be sanitized after each group has completed voting.

No voter can be turned away, even if they are showing signs of COVID-19, such as a persistent cough. However, if a voter has a persistent cough and is deemed to be a health risk for fellow voters and poll workers, there is a designated area for them to vote.

The poll will be open Monday through Friday, May 18 through May 29, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, May 30, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Wednesday, June 3, to Friday, June 5, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Rockdale also has a secure ballot drop box at the Board of Elections Office, 1261 Commercial Drive SW, Suite B, Conyers where voters may drop off their completed absentee ballot up through 7 p.m. on June 9.

For those who want to vote by mail, complete an absentee ballot application, available at sos.ga.gov/index.php/elections, and return it to the Board of Elections via fax at 770-785-6932; email at absentee@rockdalecountyga.gov; or in-person at the Board of Elections office on Commercial Drive.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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