Early voting is underway in the Georgia State House District 5 race, with three weeks left until election day.
Six candidates are vying to replace the late state Rep. John Meadows, R-Calhoun, who died in November. Those hoping to cast ballots early in Gordon or Murray counties can do so from now until Jan. 4. Election day is Jan. 8.
Gordon County voters can go to the main election office, located at 215 N. Wall St. in Calhoun. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Murray County voters can go to their election office, located in the courthouse annex at 121 N. Fourth Ave. Their office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Both counties' elections offices will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year's Day.
Meanwhile, the Murray County Republican Party will host question-and-answer sessions with the candidates this Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Charles "Judy" Poag Senior Center, located at 820 G.I. Maddox Parkway in Chatsworth. Kevin Jones, chairman of the Murray County GOP, said the candidates will introduce themselves and answer questions from the audience.
"It will be informal," Jones said. "They'll get up and introduce themselves, share their thoughts and goals for how to fill the office of District 5. It's such a short campaign season for them. A lot of people don't know any of them."
Meadows, who was the state House Rules Committee chairman, served in the Georgia Legislature for 14 years. He won re-election on Nov. 6 but died a week later. On Dec. 3, the Georgia Secretary of State's Office announced a special election to replace Meadows.
The district covers 10 of 12 precincts in Gordon County, excluding only the Oakman and Fairmount precincts. It also covers the Southwest precinct in Murray County.
Of the six candidates running for Meadows' seat, five are Republicans: courier business owner Matt Barton, real estate investor Steve Cochran, Larry Massey Jr., life insurance salesman and pastor Scott Tidwell and attorney Jesse Vaughn. The race also includes Democrat Brian Rosser, who works as a musician.
Candidates in Georgia can't take office unless they win at least 50 percent of the vote, meaning a runoff likely will follow the Jan. 8 election. If that's the case, the Gordon County Republican Party plans to host the top two vote-getters at its monthly meeting Jan. 10 at 6 p.m. at the Calhoun Depot.
Kathleen Thorman, chairwoman of the Gordon County Republican Party, said she has not had time to schedule any event for the election before the holidays.
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.