State Farm Arena, Mercedes-Benz Stadium to offer early voting for Jan. 5 runoff

Voters cast their ballots at a polling station at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, the state's last day of in-person early voting.  An unnerved yet energized America is voting with an urgency never seen before in the approach to a presidential election, as a record 85 million people have cast ballots despite an array of challenge. (Lynsey Weatherspoon/The New York Times)
Voters cast their ballots at a polling station at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, the state's last day of in-person early voting. An unnerved yet energized America is voting with an urgency never seen before in the approach to a presidential election, as a record 85 million people have cast ballots despite an array of challenge. (Lynsey Weatherspoon/The New York Times)

In the general election, more than 40,000 people in Fulton County cast their ballot during early voting at the Hawks’ State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta.

For the upcoming runoff for two Senate seats, they’ll have the same opportunity at State Farm Arena, with another huge venue added to the mix: the Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Through a partnership between Fulton County, the Hawks and AMB Sports and Entertainment (parent company of the Falcons), State Farm Arena will be available for early voting Dec. 14-19 (with the NBA season beginning Dec. 22), and Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be available Dec. 22-30 (the Falcons have a home game Dec. 20 and an away game Dec. 27).

No voting will take place Dec. 24 or Dec. 25. There will be a transition day on Dec. 21.

“This partnership is a testament to the commitment of the leadership of our professional sports teams in Fulton County,” chairman Robb Pitts said. “More than 40,000 voters cast their ballots at State Farm Arena … now our residents have a chance to visit another world-class facility right here in our community.”

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the size of both venues will help facilitate social distancing.

Outside of one technical difficulty on Day 1 of early voting Nov. 12, which held some people up for about an hour, voters largely enjoyed minimal lines and wait times at State Farm Arena.

“We are proud to continue our partnership with Fulton County and begin this new one with AMBSE as we continue to fulfill our mission to be a community asset by ensuring that all Fulton County residents can safely exercise their right to vote in a safe, efficient manner,” Hawks owner Tony Ressler said. “In these unprecedented times, the entire Hawks organization is dedicated to contributing to our community, and it is also important to all of us that we collaborate with other likeminded private sector organizations to build bridges with local and state government to support the needs of area residents.”

During early voting, Fulton residents are not restricted to their assigned precinct and can cast their ballot at any early voting location in the county. On Election Day, however, voters must visit their assigned precinct.

“We are thrilled to offer Mercedes-Benz Stadium as an early voting location for the Senate run-off election,” Steve Cannon, CEO of AMB Sports and Entertainment said. “Voter awareness and active participation have long been priorities for our organization, and we are thrilled to be able to offer our support and services to Georgia voters. We are grateful to the Hawks and State Farm Arena in partnering with us and we will ensure that Fulton County voters continue to have the best voting experience possible.”

The Hawks expect to have 124 voting machines available for use and a similar number of staff volunteering as election workers as they did in the general election (about 300).

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