AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – District 1 Commissioner Jordan Johnson and State Senator Harold Jones said at a news conference on Wednesday that early voting hours need to expand from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.
“The one thing we’re going to leave up to the county is how many polling places you want open, and the times you want them open. We fall short on that. That is just ridiculous,” Jones said.
Leaders said Richmond County is lagging behind when it comes to early voting turnout this election, being the third lowest in the state according to Georgia Secretary of State data.
“This expansion of early voting opportunities is essential to making sure that people who work full time can vote, someone who may have a doctors appointment,” Commissioner Johnson said. “And any other things that may come up to prevent someone from having access to the ballot.”
Travis Doss, the Executive Director of the Richmond County Board of Elections, said that early voting hours expansion was mentioned in a special called meeting on Friday, but it was not voted on.
He said the BOE hasn’t received any requests for the change, but it would take it into consideration if asked.
He also said that one thing that could prevent the change is staffing shortages for poll workers.
After the meeting on Friday, three new early voting locations were added in Richmond County.
Those locations are the Henry Brigham Community Center at 2463 Golden Camp Rd, the Robert Howard Community Center at 103 Diamond Lakes Way and the Warren Road Community Center at 300 Warren Road.
Early voters at the new locations said they appreciate the access to additional early voting locations, and think extended early voting hours are needed.
“People work late, they have things to do, they have children to pick up,” said Diane Jefferson, an early voter. “So seven to seven would work out fine for everyone. A change needs to come.”