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DeKalb Elections Board pushes for safety, ease of voting access in Nov. 3 election

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DeKalb Elections Board pushes for safety, ease of voting access in Nov. 3 election

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FILE PHOTO USED FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES: Theresa Gillespie voted at the The Church at Decatur Heights on November 8, 2016.


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By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor

DeKalb County, GA — DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections office was recently awarded a $4.8 million grant from Center for Tech and Civic Life.

In a special called meeting Oct. 7, Board Chair Sam Tillman said the money will be put to use for the current and future elections.

Board members remain concerned about the ease of access to early voting polls, the lack of equipment for counting ballots, the number of drop boxes in the county, and the safety of staff, poll workers, and voters on Election Day, Nov. 3.

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At the meeting, Department of Voter Registration and Elections Director Erica Hamilton announced that DeKalb COO Zach Williams made it possible to give N95 masks for staff and poll workers. Hamilton said mandatory temperature checks and masks apply to all staff and visitors to the Elections office. In addition, new employees must pass a COVID-19 test.

National Vote at Home Institute consultant Hillary Hall presented board members with recommendations to make the next four weeks smoother, including using a large warehouse instead of multiple rooms in the Memorial Drive office to open and process advanced voting ballots, as well as adding staff to process ballots faster.

Hamilton responded, “Do you want accuracy, or do we want to have our ballots processed in a timely manner?”

The State Election Director Chris Harvey recently announced a software error in the printing of ballots which caused a delay in preparing for the election.

One way to increase efficiency, said Hall, is for voters to submit ballots earlier rather than later.

“If your voters rock it out, and get their ballots back earlier, we can really take advantage of [early voting], then that time goes down,” she said, adding that typical voters procrastinate and submit ballots on election day.

Without using a warehouse, Hall said it will take five days after the election to complete [counting] the majority of ballots.

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Voters can check their voter registration status, mail-in application status, ballot status, polling place and more at www.MVP.sos.ga.gov. Polling places are listed by address here.

Here’s some more data from the Department of Voter Registration and Elections:

– 30,000 absentee ballot applications have been received by the department.

– More than two dozen ballot drop boxes are available in DeKalb County. To see the list of locations, click here.

– DeKalb’s population is approximately 740,000, and 560,000 are registered to vote.

12 advanced voting sites will open Oct. 12. To see a list of early voting locations, click here.

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