An extra day of voting access at some Georgia polls in 2014 may have inadvertently backfired, as Republican state legislators push a bill to reduce the number of early voting days from 21 to 12. When, for the first time, the state’s most populous counties decided to open some polling places on the Sunday ahead of the November midterms, GOP lawmakers argued that the early voting sites were chosen to maximize votes for Democratic candidates. Fears that Sunday voting would lead to Democratic victories were unfounded in the highest-profile races, however, as U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn and gubernatorial challenger Jason Carter lost their races by about 8 percentage points each.
And yet, the bill’s supporters say the legislation is a necessary patch to create consistency and balance among urban and rural counties regarding election administration costs, as well as “equal opportunity” among voters in those counties, since the measure would ensure that all counties have at least one Saturday for early voting. It would give counties the option of opening polls a second Saturday or Sunday as well.
“There were complaints of some voters having more opportunities than others,” Republican state Rep. Ed Rynders told the Albany Herald last week. “For instance, in Fulton County last year, early voting was conducted for 19 straight days, including two Saturdays and two Sundays. This legislation offers equal access statewide.”