Cobb: Fewer early voting sites than neighbors for Senate runoff

People cast their vote at a Cobb County polling center on Whitlock Ave in Marietta, October 12, 2020.   STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

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People cast their vote at a Cobb County polling center on Whitlock Ave in Marietta, October 12, 2020. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

Cobb voters hoping to cast early in-person ballots for two Senate runoffs in January can do so at one of five locations starting Dec. 14, a decrease from the 11 locations open before the November general election.

Cobb is an outlier among the four major metro counties by drastically reducing the number of early voting sites.

Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler said her department faced difficulty getting experienced poll managers to work over the winter holidays. She was responding to concerns raised at a Cobb legislative delegation meeting Tuesday.

“We just could only staff the five locations,” Eveler said.

State Rep. Teri Anulewicz noted the strain placed on election officials and workers who are in the midst of counting votes for a third time due to a recount request from President Donald Trump’s campaign. She expressed frustration over the state of affairs.

“I definitely, 100 percent, believe that the poll workers are exhausted and it’s probably hard to recruit enough folks,” she said. “At the same time ... I don’t know why we seem to be having a harder time of that in Cobb County.”

Fulton County will open the same 30 early voting locations that it used for the Nov. 3 general election, plus the addition of the Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium downtown.

Gwinnett is reopening the same nine early polling sites it had for the general election.

Details were still being finalized in DeKalb this week, but county officials have said they plan to have the same 12 early voting sites that the county had for the general election. In most cases the locations will also be the same.

Eveler didn’t respond directly to a question about why Cobb is having more trouble staffing polls than neighboring counties.

“Each county sets their own days and hours,” she wrote in an email. “We are required to be open only at the Main Office location during regular business hours. All additional locations and hours are at the discretion of each county.”

She also said the setup for one election does not have any bearing on the setup for the next election.

“They are all different,” Eveler said.

Reporter Tyler Estep contributed to this story.