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Early voting begins this week
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If the voting booths are as busy as the candidates have been, it may be a good idea to vote early.

Early voting began in Dawson County Monday and runs through Oct. 31. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. One Saturday voting session is scheduled for Oct. 25, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

For the first time in Georgia, and what may represent the new South, five black Democratic women are on the ballot running for statewide offices. They are:

1. Robbin Shipp, running for labor commissioner against Republican incumbent Mark Butler

2. Doreen Carter, up for secretary of state.

3. Liz Johnson, running for insurance commissioner against incumbent Ralph Hudgens and Libertarian Edward Metz.

4. Former State Sen. Connie Stokes, running for lieutenant governor against Republican incumbent Casey Cagle

5. Valarie Wilson, running for state schools superintendent against Richard Woods

The Washington Post refers to the women as the Georgia Five and say they are running at a time of major demographic shifts in the state and that Democrats see Georgia as a state that could begin to loosen the GOPs grip on the South. Non-whites, the article states, make up almost 45 percent of the population. Yet, President Obama lost Georgia by 7 percent, or about 300,000 votes.

Closer to home, two candidates for Dawson County commission seats are running unopposed: Republican and political newcomer Sharon Fausett will succeed two-term commissioner Gary Pichon in District 1, and Jimmy Hamby representing District 3. Two Dawson County Board of Education members are also running unopposed, Will Wade for member at large and Karen Armstrong in District 3.

House Rep. Kevin Tanner seeks a second term and is running unopposed for the 9th District seat, as is State Sen. Steve Gooch for District 51.

Dawson County Board of Election Chair Glenda Ferguson said there are many benefits to voting early.

Voters can avoid potential parking challenges and waiting at the polling place, she said. And you can avoid the unexpected that could prevent voting on election day.

If voters are not available to go to the polls on Nov. 2, a paper absentee ballot is available.

Republican Incumbent Congressman Doug Collins faces Democrat David Vogel for U.S. representative from the 9th Congressional District of Georgia.

In the race for Georgias next governor, Nathan Deal faces Democrat Jason Carter and Libertarian Andrew Hunt.

In the U.S. Senate, Republican newcomer David Perdue faces Michelle Nunn, Democrat, and Amanda Swafford, Libertarian.

And Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens will face-off against Democratic challenger Gregory Hecht.