NEW: Early Vote Expansion Blocked Over SB 202 State Takeover Fears

November 3, 2022

Citing SB 202 Concerns, Dougherty County Votes Against Expanding Early Voting Hours

Yesterday, the Dougherty County Board of Elections held a meeting to consider an expansion of hours for the final days of early voting — the majority of the board voted against expanding hours. The County Attorney strongly recommended that board members vote against expanding voting hours, citing several factors, among them concerns over a state takeover of the local elections board made possible by Gov. Brian Kemp’s voter suppression law, SB 202.

The meeting came after a request by local community leaders to expand early voting hours to 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, to ensure working Georgians who can’t make it to the polls by 5:00 PM could have the opportunity to cast their ballots early and avoid the long lines on Election Day.

Dougherty County has the third-lowest turnout rate among all 159 counties, with just 15% of voters turning out to vote early as compared to the statewide average of 24.4%.

Dougerty County Attorney Cites SB 202 Takeover Concerns While Advising Board Members to Vote Against Expanding Early Voting Hours:

Dougherty County Attorney: “We’ve got to err on the side of caution here, because the other thing that we now have lingering above us is SB 202, which provides the state board of elections to take over an election board that it deems has performed poorly or in a manner in-compliant with the law. And I can’t imagine that’s the result that folks who are advocating for expanded access would want. So I would strongly recommend against the expanding of voting hours at this point in the game.”

Read more • WALB News 10: Dougherty Co. board votes against expanding early voting hours

  • The Dougherty County Board of Elections has voted not to extend voting hours during this last week of early voting.
  • Board members say one of the main reasons they voted against extending early voting hours was that the request was not submitted early enough.
  • During the meeting, board members discussed as the public watched, unable to address the board.
  • Board members say there were other reasons for their objections as well.
  • “The lack of poll workers. They’ve been working, they were not prepared for the extension,” Williams Sr. said. “Some of them had other things to do at five. And so, we just could not, in good conscience, get them to work those extended hours.”
  • But voters say Dougherty County needs to change and follow the example of other counties that have extended their early voting hours. As well as more early voting locations.
  • Demetrius Young is the Ward 6 city commissioner. “I think that’s an indication of kind of the scare tactics that SB 202 does,” Young said. “You heard a lot of the board talk about the state coming in and taking over. And we feel like that’s what drove this vote. That scare tactic in terms of what the state was going to do. But we feel like that was an incorrect interpretation of the law.”
  • However, Young says the early voting hours and access to the board are limited.
  • “We’ve made requests before as voting rights advocates. Different groups in the community,” Young said. “But when they make their decisions as a board, sometimes we’re not here when they make those decisions. Those board meetings are during the day. Just like the voting times are during the day when people are not able to come. So, a lot of that has to do with access to the public.”
  • Young says if the board wants to fight claims of voter suppression, they should consider the needs of everyone.
  • Young and others in the meeting say they would like to remind everyone that in Georgia, employers are required to allow an employee up to two hours to cast their ballot.
  • Although the request to extend early voting hours was denied, activists at the meeting say they would encourage people to get out to vote if they haven’t already.


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