Politics

Republican Bill Would Cut Early Voting Days, Mandate Sunday Voting

In 2008, 53 percent of voters cast ballots before election day.
In 2008, 53 percent of voters cast ballots before election day.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press
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A Republican-sponsored bill in the Georgia House would shorten the number of early voting days from 21 to 12.

Rep. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming, said his bill is about creating a more uniform voting system.

“Cities and counties all over the state have different days, different times … The purpose of this was really uniformity,” said Hamilton.

Under the bill, polling locations would be open for 12 consecutive days ending on the Friday before the election.

Until recent years, Georgia had allowed 45 days of early voting, and many took advantage. In 2008, 53 percent of voters cast ballots before election day.

In 2011, Republican lawmakers cut early voting from 45 days to 21 days. They said keeping polling locations open so long was costly to counties, particularly those in rural areas. 

In addition to reducing the number of days further, Hamilton’s bill would mandate Sunday voting in all counties.

That was a point of contention last year. Several counties, including Fulton and DeKalb, held Sunday voting for the first time in Georgia history. Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, criticized DeKalb County for not opening all polling locations and accused the county of catering to voters in predominately black, Democratic areas. He vowed to ban Sunday voting all together.

Now, Sen. Millar says he’d consider supporting Hamilton’s bill.

“It’s all about having a uniform system that provides equal access to everyone,” said Millar. 

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