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Gwinnett won’t expand early voting as requested by elections board

Gwinnett County planned to increase early voting in 2020, but delays in the delivery of voting machines mean poll workers haven’t been trained and it can’t happen until November. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM) AJC FILE PHOTO
Gwinnett County planned to increase early voting in 2020, but delays in the delivery of voting machines mean poll workers haven’t been trained and it can’t happen until November. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM) AJC FILE PHOTO

Extended early voting for the spring primary elections in Gwinnett County won't happen because county commissioners didn't pay for it, despite requests from the county's election board that they provide the funding.

Elections officials had requested money that would have allowed early voting to be expanded from 12 to 19 days at all eight of Gwinnett’s early voting locations.

Instead, the county has funded the status quo — 12 days of early voting at seven locations for the March and May primary elections. There will be 19 days of early voting this spring at one county location — Gwinnett’s main elections board office.

County spokesman Joe Sorenson said commissioners have funded extended early voting at all locations for November’s general election.

But at a Tuesday election board meeting, county staff told elections board members that a delay in the delivery of voting machines meant that there was not enough time to train poll workers for expanded early voting.

Sharon Wood, a county voter, said she thought the information provided to the board was confusing.

“They made it sound like an issue with machines,” she said.

Delivery of the voting machines to Gwinnett County has been delayed. They were supposed to arrive Friday, but now won't be delivered until Jan. 30. Several other metro Atlanta counties have already received their machines.

But even if the machines had arrived on time, expanded early voting can’t happen without funding.

“We are behind where we would like to be,” elections supervisor Kristi Royston said.

Penny Poole, the president of the Gwinnett NAACP, said Tuesday that the decision not to expand early voting will result in voter suppression.

“That’s a huge problem,” she said.

Stephen Day, a Democratic member of the elections board, said he was under the impression that the county had approved money to pay for more early voting days in the spring. He said he is bothered that the decision not to expand early voting was made despite the election board’s unanimous vote to increase accessibility.

“Personally, I think it’s a big issue,” Day said.