ATLANTA — More than 800,000 registered voters in Fulton County will have access to State Farm Arena on Monday as early voting kicks off.
On Thursday, the Atlanta Hawks and Fulton County leaders offered a look at the set-up inside the NBA arena. The 700,000 square foot facility is marked for social distancing.
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Hundreds of employees are on standby to assist voters with logistics, and dozens of arena staff have become county-trained poll workers and IT support.
Most importantly, there are lots of ballot machines – 300 of them, triple the number included in the original early voting plan.
Any Fulton County voter taking advantage of early voting won’t have to worry about transportation logistics.
“We’re opening all the parking lots we control and manage for free,” said Steve Koonin, CEO of the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena.
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But Monday will also be a major test, as Fulton County continues to update software to 3,700 voting machines.
When pressed on his confidence that the machines will be ready sans the problems that have resulted in confusing ballot name displays and other technical issues, the election board director did not express doubt.
“I think during testing we’ll see if anything comes up,” said Rick Barron. “Nothing’s been reported by the counties.”
During a June primary marred with pandemic problems that resulted in long lines and frustrated voters, the county also lost out on trained poll workers at the last minute. Commission Board Chairman Robb Pitts said that’s a problem voters won’t face when they step into the county’s 30 early voting sites.
“We had 6,000 people who indicated they wanted to volunteer to be poll workers,” said Pitts. “Of that 6,000, we’ll have 3,000 that are trained. And not virtual training. In-person training.”
The elections board is also seeking to retain extra security at all the polling sites. Without referencing President Donald Trump directly, Barron indicated that Trump’s recent remarks during the presidential debate, encouraging supporter to watch the polls, has caused voter concern.
Barron confirmed that he was headed into a meeting to discuss plans for added security, which could include the Fulton Marshals and deputies.
“There have been comments that have been made regarding, you know, watching what voters are doing and their concern about intimidation,” said Barron. “We want to be active and get in front of that and make sure that people are safe when they go out to vote.”
For more information on Fulton County voting hours and precincts, visit https://fultoncountyga.gov/services/voting-and-elections
Cox Media Group