Poll workers in many Georgia counties opened early voting locations yesterday for the state’s first-ever attempt at Sunday voting. How did it go?
The AJC is reporting that Fulton county had 3,880 voters by 4:55 PM, and DeKalb county had 3,888. In Richmond County, the number was 497. In a Facebook post, Rep. Jack Kingston said he was the last of 600 voters to cast a ballot in his Savannah early voting location. And, there were unverified reports of about 500 Sunday voters in Albany.
Fulton county also had early voting on October 19th, with turnout of 1,507.
According to the AJC story, busy schedules and “Souls to the Polls” efforts may have driven interest in voting on Sunday.
This week, Tawanna and Greg Seals arrived just after a polling location at the South DeKalb Mall opened at noon — only to find more than 100 people already waiting in line. Both said busy work schedules and Saturday errands involving their three children usually kept them from taking advantage of early voting. Sunday, however, “is the one day we have free,” Tawanna Seals said.
Coordinated efforts by a number of churches and civil rights groups to help parishioners get to nearby polling sites also may have boosted the day’s numbers. In Chatham County, for example, the Savannah branch of the NAACP promoted a “Souls to the Polls” effort.
The Wall Street Journal this morning reports on the effort by Republicans and Democrats to turn out voters who normally don’t cast ballots in midterm elections.
Georgia Democrats on Sunday shuttled churchgoers to early polling sites in predominantly black parts of the state in a bid to win a Republican-held Senate seat.
Both parties are using the early voting period to find people who didn’t participate in the last midterm elections, in 2010, and persuade them to cast ballots. The results so far suggest these efforts are working.
In Georgia and North Carolina, two of more than 30 states that allow voters to cast ballots before Election Day without providing a reason, roughly 21% of those who already have voted show no record of participating in the 2010 midterms, according to data compiled by Michael McDonald, an associate professor at the University of Florida. If the pattern holds, turnout may exceed expectations in the closest races.
Adding Sunday voting is certainly one way of making it easier for people to cast their ballot at a time more convenient to them. The real question, though, is how many of the thousands who took advantage of Sunday voting would have ended up casting their ballots at another time, including the traditional voting day of the first Tuesday in November.