Trevor, the UGA spokesman, initially said the school decided early this summer not to hold an on-campus site for the three-week early voting period that begins Oct. 12 because of long voting lines and “insufficient indoor space” at the Tate Center complex where it would have been staged.
“Those comparing this matter to a football game should be able to recognize that football games will be played outdoors but we will still require social distancing by substantially reducing capacity in the stadium,” said Trevor, adding that the university will run shuttle buses from campus to a polling site in downtown Athens.
The campus has made steady gains in fighting the spread of the disease, mirroring recent improvements across the state. UGA said Wednesday that the number of infections had fallen to 421 in the week that ended Sunday, down from 1,490 cases the week before.
Still, the school’s efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 has caused strains between the Athens-Clarke County government and UGA officials over how to contain the disease.
Mokah Johnson, a Democratic House candidate for an Athens-based district, urged the school to consider a “higher capacity outdoor venue that UGA already believes can safely accommodate” thousands during the pandemic: Sanford Stadium, the football venue on campus where gridiron games will soon be played.
The school also faced criticism from Jordan Fuchs, the chief deputy to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who is Georgia’s top elections official.
“As an alumna, I have the utmost respect for the greatest institution this country has ever seen,” she said. “But UGA needs to evaluate the needs of the community it serves and open its doors to the taxpayers and voters that make their success possible.”