Dear Editor: On Tuesday, Nov. 2, the polls will be open for Madison County voters. On the ballots will be a selection of local candidates, and for the T-SPLOST referendum.
Voters living in District 3 (Hull area) will be selecting a new county commissioner to fill the remaining term of an open position. The cities of Comer, Carlton, and Colbert have contested city council seats up for election and voters in these cities will be selecting which candidates they want for their respective cities. Also, on the ballots in all five of the Madison County districts, voters will be deciding on approval of a T-SPLOST referendum. This is for a five-year, one-cent sales tax to be used for much needed county transportation improvements.
Early in-person voting for all Madison County voters began Oct. 12 in the new location for Board of Elections Office. The new location is next to the Madison County Government Complex in Danielsville. Early voting will be available during their regular office hours thru Oct. 29.
Madison County Democrats were very disappointed that there was no Sunday voting scheduled during this election. We can somewhat understand that because this is an off year election, because of the requirements of moving the elections office into a new location, and because our Board of Elections was given little time to make changes to accommodate all the newly passed requirements. That being said, because it is the only time many of our working voters have time off from their jobs to vote, we request and fully expect Sunday early voting to be available during the next full election in 2022, to do otherwise would be considered voter disenfranchisement and to be obvious voter suppression.
For those voting by absentee ballot, your ballot must be returned to the elections office by the day of the election (Nov. 2). If you plan to use the drop-box at the office for returning your ballot, be aware that the drop box is only available during the open hours of the office (8 a.m. until 5 p.m.). In our opinion, this pretty much makes the drop box useless for those that really need it. Because of the confusing and restrictive changes to the absentee ballot process and the limited times for access to the drop box, our committee has been strongly recommending that all citizens use in-person voting if at all possible.
Someday we hope that our legislators will find a way for simple, readily available voting that is secure and manageable, and that will respond to the will of the people. But for now, we must all be diligent and respond to the hurdles recently created by the new laws passed by the Georgia Legislature. In our opinion, these new laws were unnecessarily restrictive. We need to expand early voting times and locations, remove some of the unnecessary restrictions on absentee voting, and expand access to absentee ballot drop boxes. We need these changes to make sure that the voices of all registered voters are heard through their right to vote. Removing these restrictions would also save on the costs of additional staffing requirements at the individual polling places throughout the county, costs that are paid for by the taxpayers of the county. Many states have implemented these expanded methods to great advantage and have experienced no compromise of their election process.
We hope to see you at the polls Nov. 2 or, if you are voting early, at the Board of Elections office in Danielsville. Remember, you vote is your voice, be sure your voice is heard.
Chair, Madison County Democratic Committee