Almost 200,000 people voted in the U.S. Senate runoff over the weekend—proof that Georgia should expand access to early voting, according to voting rights activists.
Despite not all counties offering early voting on Saturday and Sunday, 181,711 voters participated, according to the Georgia secretary of state’s office. That included 2,194 Athens residents. Some stood in line for an hour or more.
Voting Monday was on pace to set a record for most votes cast on a single day during early voting, according to Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer for the secretary of state’s office.
That’s at least partly because of a new compressed schedule for the runoff election. Because last year’s voting bill, SB 202, moved up the runoff from January to December, there is only one week of early voting rather than three.
Instead of restricting early voting opportunities, the state should be expanding them, voting rights activists said during a virtual news conference on Monday.
“We need a system that accommodates Georgians when they want to vote,” ACLU senior counsel Vasu Abhiraman said.
In addition, the secretary of state’s office initially tried to block Saturday voting, but three courts ruled that it could move forward. Confusion over the status of Saturday voting, combined with the compressed schedule, have made it difficult to get information out to voters, especially college students who’ve been on Thanksgiving break and are now preparing for finals.
Nevertheless, 2,500 canvassers have been knocking on 200,000 doors a day, said Hillary Holley, executive director of Care in Action, a nonprofit that advocates for domestic workers that’s affiliated with the Georgia Organizers for Active Transformation coalition.
For information on when and where to vote early in Athens, click here.
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