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Board of Elections okays Saturday voting despite some concerns

The Clarke County Board of Elections narrowly approved a plan to hold early voting this Saturday at two locations in Athens. The vote came after lengthy discussion and an impassioned plea by county elections director Charlotte Sosebee on behalf of elections workers who have been stretched thin in recent weeks.

"I'm giving 7 [a.m] to 7 [p.m. early voting hours during the week of November 28]," Sosebee told board members. "I'm giving Saturday voting. And now I'm taking more blood out of this turnip ... and we're tired."

Sosebee also told Board of Elections members that finding workers to staff Saturday early voting would be difficult, and the problem would be compounded by a UGA home football game on Saturday.

"We've talked with poll workers who say they could do Saturday voting. We have two.
I talked with staff - could we do Saturday voting? And some want to watch the game," she said. "Some feel like the traffic is going to be bad and that we won't get voters, and feel like that would be, you know, working in vain."

Board of Elections members discussed not using the elections office downtown as a Saturday voting site, but County Attorney Judd Drake said that not using the downtown office could raise legal questions.

Board Chair Rocky Raffle urged his colleagues to err on the side of caution by opening the downtown location, calling that option, "not ideal'" but the "safest bet."

Ultimately, the board voted 3 – 2 to hold early voting on Saturday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at both the downtown elections office and the Miriam Moore Community Center.

The ability to hold Saturday voting came about abruptly after a judge last week overturned guidance from the Secretary of State’s office that disallowed voting on Saturday. That judge’s decision was upheld yesterday afternoon by the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Martin Matheny is WUGA's Program Director and a host and producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters.' He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on WUGA and GPB Classical. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.
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