Seven candidates are taking part in a special election today to temporarily fill the seat of the late Rep. John Lewis. The winner will hold the seat for approximately three and a half months until January. At the start of the new year, the winner of November's election will hold the seat for the duration of the two-year term.
The special congressional election includes a diverse field of politicians, educators and local leaders. Former Morehouse College President Robert Franklin has put together a bid for the temporary seat. Joining him, fellow educator Barrington Martin II is running for the seat for a second time. He campaigned for the seat against Rep. John Lewis earlier this year. Also, the race includes a pair of state legislators, Keisha Waites and "Able" Mable Thomas. Rounding out the Democratic field, Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall is also looking fill the seat. Independent Steven Muhammad and Libertarian Chase Oliver complete the field of those looking to fall in the Civil Rights leader's footsteps.
Despite the number of viable candidates, there is concern regarding voter turnout. In Georgia's 5th Congressional District, there are nearly 630,000 eligible voters. However, early reports suggest that less than 20,000 people have voted so far. Some candidates are blaming the low voter turnout on a lack of awareness.
Waites called the turnout "super low" and then added, “Given all of the misinformation and confusion, the voters have no clue the special election is tomorrow."
November's two-year term election will likely draw higher voter turnout. Democratic nominee Nikema Willams will face off against Republic Angela Stanton King on November 3. The deadline to register to vote is October 5.
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