Interim director promises smooth election



ATLANTA - Early voting for this year's presidential election began on Monday in Georgia.

Every county in the state has at least one location for residents to cast their ballots for the general election early.

Channel 2 Action News crews found long lines Monday at early voting locations in Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett and DeKalb counties.

Early voters in Fulton County told Channel 2's Lori Geary they had their reasons to cast ballots now: avoiding long lines and potential problems.

"It was a mess the last time. Hopefully, everything goes well this time," voter Joseph Dennis said.

"I hope it's behind the county. I'm a county resident, so I was really disturbed at a lot of the things that took place previously," voter Clint Rucker told Geary.

Just three weeks ago, Fulton County accepted the resignation of its elections director, Sam Westmoreland.

At the time, he was in jail for violating sentencing terms in two previous DUIs.

His lockup came after a problem plagued the July primary where hundreds of voters were assigned to the wrong districts, and the county missed a deadline to certify results.

"There is an individual who we can point blame at in terms of some challenges we had. That's now behind us. We've got good leadership in place now," said Fulton County chairman John Eaves.

"It's been about three weeks. Of course, it feels like three years," Interim Elections Director Sharon Mitchell told Geary.

Mitchell said she knows the pressure is on to run a smooth election.

She was late to her interview with Geary because she personally traveled to north Fulton County after she heard complaints the lines were getting long.

"We actually showed up at the site with additional workers," Mitchell said.

Mitchell told Geary she turned to the county's information technology department to ensure voters are in the right district, and they have a van to carry workers to precincts that need extra help.

Mitchell said she had a message for all full-time and temporary election workers.

"We do use a mantra here that talks about no excuses. We believe we are going to be successful in this process," Mitchell said.

"That's why I'm here early, to see what's going on and hope they got it straightened out," voter William Young said.

What you need to know:

Early voting locations are open through Nov. 2, with many extending operating hours leading up to Election Day on Nov. 6.

Voters will need to bring a valid photo ID, such as a driver's license or a passport, to participate.

Early voting was expanded by lawmakers in 2008 to allow anyone to vote as early as 45 days before the election without having to provide a reason. Before 2008, advance ballots could only be cast one week before the election and only by voters who provided a reason for needing to vote early.

According to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll, 40 percent of likely Georgia voters said they plan to cast their ballots during early voting, while 54 percent said they plan to wait until Election Day.

Click here to find early voting locations for your county.

Channel 2 Action News

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