ATLANTA — As we get ready to vote in the Senate runoff, Channel 2 Action News has learned how several metro counties are preparing for the early voting period.
DeKalb County said it will be adding polling locations for the early voting period ahead of the Jan. 5 runoff election for the U.S. Senate, while Cobb County will be offering fewer polling places.
The NAACP and ACLU say the move by Cobb County will affect minority voters. The county’s elections director Janine Eveler told Channel 2′s Chris Jose that this all boils down to manpower.
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For the Nov. 3 general election, Cobb County had 11 advance voting locations. For the January Senate runoff there will be just five.
Jose spoke with voter Terrell Jacocks as he was leaving the South Cobb Regional Library. The library served as one of the 11 advanced voting locations during the general election. For the runoff election, it will not be used as a location.
“It is predominantly black from what I’ve seen. That’s a big one right there,” Jacocks said.
Civil rights groups say they have “deep concern about advanced voting access” that would be harmful to Cobb County’s Black and LatinX voters.
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“I don’t see why they made any changes. Should’ve been the same. Both,” voter Ana Sea said.
The county says there are no set locations for advance voting, and they change each election.
Eveler said the amount of early voting locations is an ongoing strategic conversation.
“Between COVID, the workload, the holidays, we just ran out of people to staff a location,” Eveler said.
Eveler says she’s down 43 employees and the county doesn’t have enough supervisors to watch over more locations.
“For three weeks, six days a week, they were working 14, 15 hours a day. And they said we’re not doing that again,” Eveler said.
Out of the 11 advance voting locations used during the general election, two are majority Black. One was in Mableton, the other in Powder Springs.
Cobb County announced Wednesday afternoon that they had added two more polling locations in Marietta and Smyrna, bringing the total up to 13.
It’s a different story in DeKalb County, where they announced Tuesday that the county would be adding extra polling locations ahead of the runoff election – a total of 13.
“Because of the importance of the race coming up. It is extremely important for us,” voter Julius C. Lee said.
DeKalb told Channel 2′s Audrey Washington that they might open more polling sites if needed.
“We prepared this in regard to seeing an overrun of advance voters and now with this next election coming up we expect the crowds to be the same, if not larger,” Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary said.
Forsyth County said they will have five early voting locations across the county for people to vote in the runoff.
Voting locations are the Forsyth Voter Registration and Elections Office, 1201 Sawnee Drive; Hampton Park Library, 5345 Settingdown Road; Parks & Recreation Natural Resources Operations Center, 1605 Canton Highway; Sharon Springs Park Community Building, 1950 Sharon Road; and Midway Park Community Building, 5100 Post Road.
To vote in person, a voter must bring one of six acceptable forms of photo identification, the county said.
Early voting begins Dec. 14 across the state.
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