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DeKalb Elections violates voting laws with polling location change

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DeKalb Elections violates voting laws with polling location change

Photo by Dena Mellick

This story has been updated. 

By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor

DeKalb County, GA — DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections department is not in compliance with the new voter law, SB202, six days before Election Day, Nov. 2.

The Elections Board voted Oct. 27 to accept a change in polling locations in South DeKalb. According to voting law SB202, a polling place change cannot be made before an election without notifying the public, except in cases of emergency.

Board Chair Dele Lowman Smith said the department knew about the change, indicating this was not an emergency.

“We have reason to believe the church did alert us, so I would not like for there to be an impression that they are somehow inconveniencing voters, or being inconsiderate of their commitment,” said Lowman Smith.

Voters in the Snapfinger Road South precinct will be directed to the Ray of Hope education building at 2767 Snapfinger Road, Decatur GA 30034, instead of voting at the church’s main building across the street.

Voter precinct changes lead to a lack of voter confidence, said Joy Wasson, a retired Emory staff member who spoke during public comments.

“I would like to understand why precinct locations are able to get out of their commitments at the last minute, leaving this board to be approved increasing changes yet again, very close to Election Day. I’m sure there are challenges, but please do all you can to work with election and legal staff to get precinct locations locked in well before the week before the election,” Wasson said.

“Due to construction activity, the original location is unavailable for use as a polling place, but Ray of Hope has made an alternative building available which is conveniently located directly across from the original location on Snapfinger Road,” said Erik Burton, communications consultant for DeKalb County Elections.

Burnett did not answer when the VRE knew there would be a location change.

Margaret Arnett, co-founder of The Georgia Voter Guide, said, “With the changes in Georgia voting law, it is absolutely critical that every voter checks their voter registration information every single time before they head out the door to vote on Election Day. Polling places can change unexpectedly, even if you have voted at the same place for years.”

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