Democratic candidates, advocates slam Cobb over early voting

Democratic Senate Candidates Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff have joined advocacy groups including the NAACP and the ACLU in criticizing Cobb County elections officials over their plan to open fewer early voting locations for the January runoffs than they did for the general election.

The number of early voting locations will be reduced from 11 ahead of the Nov. 3 election to just five leading into the January 5 runoff. Cobb is the only major metro county planning to significantly cut the number of early voting locations.

Several of the locations that will not be opened again are in neighborhoods with a higher percentage of Black and Hispanic residents, leading those voters to be disproportionately impacted, critics say.

“Georgia voters have shown all year that when the polls open, they will show up and break records,” Ossoff and Warnock said in a joint statement. “We expect the same for the runoffs, which is why election officials’ decision to cut the number of early vote locations in Cobb County in half is unacceptable.”

They called on the county to change course and restore all 11 early voting locations.

Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler has said it was not her desire to have fewer locations, but that a staffing shortage forced her hand.

“We lost several of our advance voting managers and assistant managers due to the holidays, the work load and the pandemic,” she wrote in an email. “In addition, the remaining team members who agreed to work would do so only if the hours were less onerous. For November, we stretched our staff to the limit to offer eleven locations.”

Eveler has not answered direct questions from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about why Cobb would have a harder time staffing polls than DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett Counties.

Early voting begins Dec. 14. Early voting locations in Cobb can be found here.