“Voters need to know that if you change your mind, bring your absentee ballots," she said. "And I think that if we get that message out, it will be a great service to the voters of DeKalb and will make the election day process go much quicker.”
The county’s board of elections will also consider a second potential solution suggested by the ACLU of Georgia that would place deputy registrars at every polling place to specifically handle absentee ballot exchanges.
With the additional poll worker in place, “The poll manager would not need to divert their attention from everything else they could be doing on election day,” Vasu Abhiraman, ACLU of Georgia staff members, said. “From what we’ve heard from poll managers, they’re spending 90% of their time making these calls (to county election officials) to cancel absentee ballots.”
Despite those delays, lines during the first week of early voting in DeKalb were significantly shorter than neighboring Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties. Some areas of DeKalb reported hour-and-a-half lines during the first two days of early in-person voting on Oct. 12 and 13.
Some residents reported lines up to four or five hours in predominantly Black areas of south and east DeKalb, which set off alarm bells for three county commissioners. However, election officials said they found no evidence that lines were nearly that long. Hamilton added that her office is not counting the time voters wait before polls officially open.
“If I get there at 5 o’clock and the polls don’t open until 7, I’m already in a two-hour wait,” she said. “... I’ve heard concerns about four-hour wait lines, but that was never reported to me every time I called our poll officials."
The county’s board of elections will hold a virtual meeting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday to further discuss election plans.
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