The primary vote will also be used for a special election to fill the unexpired term of Polk County Commissioner Don Williams, who died last year.
Four candidates have qualified for the position including Roger Waldrop, Tommy Shaw, Billy Williams and Joseph Davisdon.
The election will also have an advisory referendum that will ask voters to choose between the 2001 state flag that superseded the 1956 version of the Confederate battle flag or the current flag adopted by the Georgia General Assembly last year, after Gov. Sonny Perdue took office.
The last-minute compromise bill includes a provision for pictures of the flags to appear on the ballot. Another section makes it clear that the General Assembly is not bound by the vote and does not have to approve the flag that receives the most votes.
Voters, who had to be registered by Feb. 2 to be eligible, also will cast ballots in the presidential preference primary.
President George W. Bush is the only Republican candidate, which could affect the turnout for the flag referendum.
There will be nine names on the Democratic Party’s presidential slate, although four candidates have already dropped out of the race. The ballots were printed before Carol Moseley Braun, Dick Gephardt, Joe Lieberman and Gen. Wesley Clark announced their withdrawals.
The remaining contenders are Howard Dean, John Edwards, John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton. Nine other states besides Georgia are holding primaries or caucuses on March 2, to determine the number of delegates for each candidate who will go to the Democratic National Convention.
A high turnout by Georgia Democrats could translate into support for the 2001 state flag, which some say cost Barnes the governorship in 2002.
“I think it did cost him the election,” interim Georgia Democratic Party Chairman Bobby Kahn told a group of reporters last week. “And part of that was the racist campaign by Gov. Perdue.”
Alec Poitevant, chairman of the Republican Party of Georgia, defended Perdue against charges of racism connected with his campaign promise to push for a vote on the 1956 flag. Poitevant said he will vote for the current flag, which is similar to the first flag of the Confederacy but does not include the St. Andrews Cross of battle.
“I think it’s time to put the issue beyond us and move forward,” Poitevant said.