More early voting sites may be added for Congress runoff

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More early voting sites may be added for Congress runoff

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Henry P. Taylor
Kate Sweeney, former state Rep. Sally Harrell and Kimberly Todd listen to a DeKalb County resident speaking in support of more early voter sites at a DeKalb County Voter Registration & Elections Board meeting on April 24, 2017. Voters and even residents from outside of the 6th Congressional District went to the meeting to push the Elections Board to open more early voting sites after only two were open for the election on April 18th. (HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM)

Election officials said Monday they’ll probably increase the number of early voting sites in anticipation of the high-profile runoff election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

Nearly 30 residents crammed into a meeting of the DeKalb Board of Registration & Elections to express concerns about the number of early voting sites available before last week’s special election, in which Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel advanced to a June 20 runoff.

Only two sites were open in DeKalb — one at the Dunwoody Library, and another at the DeKalb Elections Office, which is outside the borders of the congressional district.

“The eyes of the world and of all DeKalb County voters are on this election,” said Melanie Manning, a Dunwoody resident, during public comments to the board. “The goal is to get as many people as possible in the runoff election.”

Elections Board Chairman Samuel Tillman said he intends to provide at least one additional early voting location, but he wasn’t prepared to call for a vote Monday. He said he needs to review more centrally located sites.

The board delayed a decision on the issue until next month.

“I’m one of those folks that strongly feels that voting should be made as easy and accessible as possible for everybody,” Tillman told the crowd. “I think you all will be pleasantly surprised once the board votes and makes a decision on where that location is.”

Across the congressional district, which covers parts of Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties, eight early voting sites were available before the April 18 election.

DeKalb residents, many of whom supported Ossoff, said additional voting sites would increase turnout. They sought at least one more location in Brookhaven, Chamblee or Tucker before the runoff.

Residents in Cobb, which is a more Republican area, have said they’ll also seek more early voting opportunities in an effort to boost support for Handel.

“People are excited to vote. They’re excited in a way I’ve never seen before in my life,” said Rich Levy, a Brookhaven resident. “Let’s reward that excitement if possible” by making it easier to cast ballots other than on Election Day.

More than 25 percent of the voters in the special election — nearly 55,000 — cast early ballots before last week’s special election. Turnout reached 43 percent, with 193,483 people participating.

The DeKalb Elections Board plans to vote on an additional voting site during its next meeting May 11.

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