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Georgia voting law changes going into effect next month

Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 11:28 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Things are changing for elections for Richmond County. We reached out to the county elections office for an update on what elections will look like with Georgia’s new voting laws going into effect the first of next month.

Right now there are seven active lawsuits challenging Georgia’s new voter laws. All parts of the legislation go into effect July 1 unless courts make a decision to overturn the law.

The Secretary of State’s Office has provided clarification on a few sections of the new law, as listed below:

Monitoring voter check-in wait time

The Secretary of State’s office is requiring all polling locations to report wait times for every election, not just general elections. This information will help us know which locations need more support or needs to make changes.

Drop box surveillance

The intention was to have surveillance be in-person. The drop box location surveillance must have adequate lighting and be under constant surveillance by an election official or his or her designee, law enforcement official, or licensed security guard. Since the drop box can only be open during Advance Voting hours, we can designate a poll worker as responsible for keeping surveillance of the drop box.

Drop boxes in general

  • Drop boxes must be established at the office of the Board of Elections or inside the location of the Advance Voting center.
  • The box may only be open during the hours of Advance Voting only. The box must be emptied and secured on a daily basis at the close of Advance Voting.
  • All drop boxes must be permanently closed at the close of the Advance Voting period.

Duplication panels

If the county party does not appoint anyone to the duplication panel, the Election Superintendent should appoint citizens to the panel. The panel must have the same partisan makeup as provided by law – one Democrat, one Republican, and one appointee of the Election Superintendent.

Lawsuits

There are currently 7 active lawsuits regarding the legislation. We have no way of knowing what if any changes will occur as a result of the lawsuits.

Effective date

All parts of the legislation will be in full effect on 7/1/2021 unless otherwise stricken or altered by the Court.

Update on voter registration in Richmond County – Jan. 1 to June 1

  • 8,000 voter registration applications processed through Department of Driver Services
  • 643 voter registration applications processed through the Online Voter Registration portal
  • 3,200 voter registration applications processed through the mail or voter registration drives
  • 179 felony removals
  • 227 death removals
  • 95,311 total transactions

Changes to voting in Minnick Park

On March 12 the City of Augusta Parks and Recreation Department reported that the facility at Minnick Park had suffered structural damage due to ground settling and excessive rain during the first part of 2021 that left the building structurally unsafe for occupancy. With an election a mere four days away, the Board relocated the voters of the Minnick Park precinct to a neighboring polling location at the Henry Brigham Center for the March 16 Special Election. Since then staff has worked to evaluate alternate facilities within the precinct for a possible polling location. It is clear that staying at the Minnick Park facility is not an option and it is likely that there will be a special election on November 2.

During its meeting last night, the Board set a public hearing on the matter to be held in conjunction with its Regular Monthly Meeting at 6 p.m. on July 12. Following the public hearing, it is anticipated that the Board will vote on the permanent relocation of the voters to a new facility. Once the final vote has been taken all effected voters will be notified.

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