Advocates Urge Georgia Secretary of State to Remove Barriers to the Ballot Ahead of January Senate Runoff

ATLANTA – All Voting is Local Georgia and leading voting rights advocates today once again urged Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to immediately direct counties to restore and expand their early voting locations and hours, resolve technology problems, publish updated ballot status information, and add more ballot drop boxes ahead of the January 5 runoff elections.

Advocates noted Cobb County officials’ recent decision to close early vote locations in predominantly black communities is just the latest example of barriers that must be removed.  

“What we’re witnessing in Cobb County is a dereliction of duty because one election official doesn’t want to do her job,” said Aklima Khondoker, Georgia state director, All Voting is Local.  “Poll workers are on the front-line in service to our democracy, which is even more reason why Cobb County must exhaust every offer to support our poll workers to keep our democracy going. Cutting early voting locations by more than half during a pandemic is not an answer.”

“Georgia’s elections must be accessible for all,” said LaVita Tuff, policy director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta. “Georgia must take critical corrective measures such as providing simple definitions regarding ballot statuses in multiple languages and an opportunity for voters to sign up for email or text notifications with updates to their ballot with an in-language option.”

“Advance voting opportunities are vital to ensuring voters can safely, securely, and freely participate in our democracy,” said Michael Pernick, Georgia state lead, prepared to vote and voting rights defender projects, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. “The COVID-19 pandemic, which is ravaging the nation, has had extremely harsh effects in Black and Latinx communities, and makes in-person voting on Election Day an untenable option for many voters. Due to widespread concerns with the reliability of the United States Postal Service, many voters are not comfortable requesting or casting absentee ballots by mail. For many voters, advance voting is the only acceptable option.”

“Although the new poll pads were instituted to modernize elections and speed the process of voting, they can ultimately increase line delays when they are ineffectively allocated and when there are problems with poll worker training and incomplete updates,” said Poy Winichakul, staff attorney, voting rights practice group, Southern Poverty Law Center and SPLC Action Fund, referring to technological problems that voters face when using poll pads to check-in and determine eligibility. “The requests in our letter encourage efficient, low-cost fixes that will ensure that Georgia voters can quickly and safely exercise their right to vote.” 

 The audio of the briefing is located here.

Background:
All Voting is Local and advocates sent a letter to Secretary Raffensperger on November 30 urging him to ensure that Georgians can vote without the needless obstacles many experienced during the 2020 election cycle. This year, Georgia’s elections have been marred by long lines, machine failures, and widespread voter confusion and misinformation.