Early voting starts Tuesday in Douglasville and Villa Rica for nonpartisan city council seats on the Nov. 2 ballot as well as ballot referendums in both cities.

All registered voters in Douglasville will be able to decide whether to approve a $25 million bond referendum for improvements to Jessie Davis Park.

If the referendum is approved, the renovations to Jessie Davis Park would include a zero entry pool, splash pad, a senior facility, an expanded gym and expanded parking.

“The reason this is important is because now that Highway 92 has been relocated this will serve as the north anchor for downtown and create connectivity into downtown we didn’t really have before on the north side,” City Manager Marcia Hampton told the Board of Commissioners in September. “It will be our north anchor park.”

Douglasville voters who live in city wards 1, 2 and 3 will also decide at least one of their representatives on the city council for the next four years.

In Ward 1, incumbent Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Terry Miller will face challenger William Golden for the seat that covers areas south and west of downtown including Arbor Station.

Wards 2 and 3 are super wards with two council members in each ward.

In Ward 2, Post 1, incumbent Councilwoman Nycole Miller is facing challenger Shay Johnson in a rematch of a 2019 special election that Miller won handily to represent areas of the city south of Veterans Memorial Highway and north of Interstate 20. Ward 2, Post 2 Councilman Mark Adams is not up for reelection this year.

In Ward 3, Post 1, incumbent Councilwoman Lashun Burr Danley faces challenger Marvin Davis for the seat that covers the city’s north side.

And in Ward 3, Post 2, incumbent Councilman Sam Davis will take on challengers Charles Lollar and John Rogers.

Advance voting runs from Tuesday, Oct. 12 through Friday, Oct. 29 at the Douglas County Courthouse on Hospital Drive from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Voting will also be open during two Saturdays: Oct. 16 and Oct. 23 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the courthouse.

Meanwhile, in Villa Rica, three city council seats are up this year as well as a package alcohol sales referendum. Two of the three Villa Rica City Council seats up this year include parts of Douglas County.

In Ward 4 incumbent Councilman Michael Young is being challenged by Anna McCoy. And in Ward 5, incumbent Councilman Danny Carter is being challenged by Dominique Conteh.

Voters who live in those two wards on the Douglas County side of Villa Rica can cast their ballots in advance at the Douglas County Courthouse.

Ward 3, which is entirely within Carroll County, is also up this year and incumbent Councilwoman Leslie McPherson is being challenged by Afoma Eguh-Okafor.

All Villa Rica residents may vote on the ballot referendum which asks whether the city should approve the issuance of licenses for the package sale of alcohol.

The council voted to place the question on the ballot in August in reaction to a new state law that would make it more likely that a petition drive could force the council to approve such a referendum anyway.

Previously, state law required that a package sales referendum be called through a petition drive that got enough signatures to match 35% of the last vote turnout.

But this year, the General Assembly lowered that percentage to 20%. Since previous petition drives had come close to the old 30% requirement, city staff considers it all but inevitable that a new petition drive would succeed.

City attorney David Mecklin advised the council in August that if the panel were forced to put a referendum on the ballot, the cost could exceed $10,000. The city could instead move forward with the referendum in time for the already scheduled (and paid for) November ballot.

If the referendum passes, the council would still not be obligated to allow licensed stores to sell alcohol by the package. However, Mecklin advised that the council would have an indication as to how residents feel about that issue.

The deadline to register to vote in this year's municipal elections was Oct. 4.

This is the first election since the state enacted election reforms last spring. Those rules will particularly impact those who wish to vote absentee for the Nov. 2 election.

Voters can apply for absentee ballots until Oct. 22. Their request must be on an official form, supplied by the Secretary of State. They cannot use the online portal that was used last year, but can download a file from the Secretary’s website. An image of that filled-out form can be emailed to their county election office. The application form can also be obtained and filled out at the election office.

The absentee ballot application requires an identification number, such as a driver’s license number or an ID provided on a state-issued identification card.

The absentee ballot must be mailed in time to be received by the elections office.

Those who opt not to vote early or to submit their absentee application can report to their regular polling places on Nov. 2 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Voters who are not sure if they live within the city limits of Douglasville or Villa Rica can call the Douglas County elections office at 770-920-7213. Visit https://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov to see your voter registration status and other information.

Villa Rican Editor Ken Denney contributed to this report.