As of early Monday afternoon, only 91 people in Cherokee County had cast their ballot in the four-candidate race to take the District 22 seat left vacant after Hill’s death in October, said Janet Munda, Cherokee elections supervisor.
“It’s extremely low,” Munda said Monday, adding that the reason was likely the holiday season and the fact that the race is the only one on the ballot. “This could be a handful of people to decide this election.”
But even with that weak showing, Cherokee County, which has about 24,000 registered voters in District 22, is leading the pack of early voters in the race for the seat covering parts of Cherokee, Fulton and Forsyth counties. The most up-to-date numbers available to Munda showed that seven people had voted so far in Forysth and just two people had turned out in Fulton County, Munda said.
Cherokee County is represented by the candidates, with Meagan Biello, Nate Cochran, Jeff Duncan and Sam Moore, all Republicans from Cherokee, going after the seat.
With three counties to be represented by the winner of the special election, Cherokee GOP Chair Rick Davies says the low turnout so far is troublesome, but it’s not much of a surprise.
“It’s actually quite concerning,” Davies said Monday. “But given the time of year with the holiday and everybody going out Christmas shopping, I had expected it to actually be a little bit lower. My hope is that once the holiday’s passed and we get through some of the festivities that we’ll see that number start to pick up.”
No matter how much the turnout picks up, though, Davies is foreseeing the possibility of a runoff election.
“Anytime you’ve got more than three candidates, you’ve always got the possibility of a runoff,” Davies said. “I would say the chances right now are probably about 60 to 40 that there will be a runoff. It could be worse. It’s really going to boil down to — as it always does — the numbers and who gets the people out to vote.”
If none of the candidates can pull in more than half of the votes Jan. 7, a runoff will be Feb. 4.
Early voting dates:
Early voting is taking place only at the Cherokee County Elections Office in downtown Canton on:
► Dec. 27: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
► Dec. 28: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
► Dec. 30-31: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
► Jan. 2-3: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.