HIAWASSEE, Ga – Four days into the early voting process for the 2020 General Election and Towns County elections officials report record turnout.
As of 1 p.m. on Friday, October 16, 1,583 Towns registered voters had cast their ballots. This number does not include absentee ballots. Board of Elections Chairman Janet Oliva stated hundreds of voters visited the civic center all week to exercise their civic duty.
The total number of ballots cast in Georgia as of October 16 at noon is 1,217,277. According to the Secretary of State’s Office, early voting is up 62 percent, and accepted absentee ballots are up 732 percent compared to the 2016 early voting numbers. These statistics measure against the first four voting days.
Earlier in the week, the state-run election net ran slowly throughout Georgia due to the record turnout statewide. As a result, voters had to wait from 45 minutes to an hour, but Towns Board of Elections and Registration and the Secretary of State implemented measures to speed up the process.
Towns began checking people in the “old fashioned way,” in other words, using the paper rolls instead of relying on the Election Net system. The Secretary of State’s office also overhauled the Election Net database to perform more efficiently, and now it’s quickly processing voter information.
The manual or paper method is a state-recommended procedure to keep lines moving if the Election Net system isn’t working correctly. Each county in Georgia receives paper rolls from the Secretary of State right before every election in case of a technology mishap.
Wait times after the improvements became 30 minutes or less.
One voter in line said that Friday’s voting line was the shortest it had been all week. When Fetch Your News was there, around eight people were waiting in line. However, it continued to move quickly.
Another woman voter added that she didn’t expect to wait in line, but it was a “beautiful day” and felt that it was essential to “get [her] vote in.”
Some voters felt like the enormous early turnout resulted from COVID-19 and the importance of the presidential election. Many people want to ensure they can safely vote and voice their opinions.
Some registered voters who requested absentee ballots are showing up to early vote instead. These individuals must sign a piece of paper voiding their absentee ballots to prevent any double voting.
Early voting will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday until October 30 at the civic center. The one day of Saturday voting is October 24 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Absentee ballots can be requested until October 30 and must be received by the local election’s office by 7 p.m. on November 3. Voters can track their absentee ballot at https://georgia.ballottrax.net/voter/.
Additionally, the local Republican and Democrat parties are doing their best to get out the vote. Representatives from both parties have lined up along the town square and are encouraging people to vote for their respective candidates.
According to those in attendance, everyone has been respectful. The groups plan to be out in full force until November 3. A former law enforcement officer told FYN at the end of the election season, Democrats and Republicans are still friends.