The push to add Sunday to the plan was met with strong opposition from residents and poll workers at Monday’s elections board meeting, with some walking out in protest after the vote. Many argued that Sunday voting is unnecessary because of the several voting options available.
Claudia Falk, the area supervisor for the Cobb Board elections, said Sunday voting will only exacerbate the stress poll workers face, especially while the department is already understaffed.
“I’m here to speak for the people who are in the trenches,” she said to the board. “Give us time to rebuild our employee base, our poll worker base.”
Board members voted 4-1 to approve the voting plan with Republican Party appointee Pat Garland opposed.
Tori Silas, the chairwoman of the Board of Elections, said that Sunday voting has been a continual consideration by the board members since she joined last summer.
“At some point, when the Georgia Legislature provides these options to us, we have to explore them and see if they work for the registered voters in Cobb County,” she said.
Fair Fight Action, a voting rights activist organization founded by Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, launched a digital ad campaign last week encouraging voters to advocate locally for a “gold standard of early vote access,” according to a statement.
That “gold standard” includes two Sunday voting days, precincts open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and an increase in voting locations available for the maximum amount of days, the statement said.
Cobb County’s voting locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the two Saturdays during three weeks of early voting.
The local debate over election processes and voting access is representative of the larger debate statewide. Democratic candidates have touted increased voting access as a top priority, while Republican candidates have stood behind the tightened election rules created by Senate Bill 202. The state’s election law established new guidelines for absentee ballots, adjusted early voting and changed elections processes.
Janine Eveler, the Cobb elections director, calculated what one day of Sunday voting at the main office from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. would cost about $4,700. The approved plan has Sunday hours from 12-4 p.m.
Silas said expanding voting access options including Sunday voting is an ongoing conversation, regardless of third-party advocacy.
“At some point, we didn’t have Saturday voting. At some point, we didn’t have three weeks of advanced, in-person voting,” she said. “If we don’t attempt it, we’ll never know how it works.”