Georgia House Bill 26, a bipartisan effort sponsored by four Democrats and two Republicans, could allow citizens the ability to vote at any precinct in their county, if their election superintendent decides to allow them to and certain requirements are met.
The bill has garnered the support of Better Georgia, which has issued a petition that allows citizens to show their support for the measure that they believe will make voting easier in Georgia.
The entire bill can be seen after the break, but the major crux of the bill is that the election superintendent must:
- make the decision whether to allow the county citizens the ability to vote at any precinct;
- provide adequate and timely notification to the citizens and the Secretary of State;
- implement measures to prevent a voter from voting at multiple precincts; and
- ensure that there are adequate workers, machines, and ballots at each precinct to handle the voters.
I like the idea behind the bill, as it would be great to have the ability to choose a convenient precinct to vote at instead of just one particular location. However, I fully understand the difficulty, at least initially, of forecasting where voters will decide to vote when given a choice and the challenge of ensuring that demand loads can be met.
For example, Bulloch County varied widely from 199 voters at the Sinkhole precinct in the 2014 General Election to 2,083 voters at the Fair Precinct. While it may be presumed that most voters would probably continue to go to their current precinct, there is the chance that a precinct may be unexpectedly overwhelmed. I could only imagine the potential troubles if the numbers were reversed in the example.
I am also mentally debating the fact that the final decision is to be made by the election superintendent. I am not typically in support of one person making a decision for an entire county, but I am also cognizant of the fact that they would be responsible for any election day issues.
I believe it would be prudent to garner feedback over the next year from citizens, election superintendents, and local government officials from all across Georgia before possibly bringing the bill to the floor in 2016. We do not need a good idea to turn into a disastrous one.
House Bill 26
By: Representatives Bruce of the 61st, Brooks of the 55th, Williams of the 168th, Pruett of the 149th, Marin of the 96th, and others
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
To amend Part 1 of Article 11 of Chapter 2 of Title 21 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to general provisions regarding preparation for and conduct of primaries and elections, so as to provide that the election superintendent of a county may permit any elector of the county to vote in any precinct of the county which such elector chooses in a primary, election, or runoff under certain conditions; to provide for certain notices; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA:
Part 1 of Article 11 of Chapter 2 of Title 21 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to general provisions regarding preparation for and conduct of primaries andelections, is amended by adding a new Code section to read as follows:
(a) Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter to the contrary, the election superintendent of a county may permit any elector of the county to vote in any precinct of the county which such elector chooses in a primary, election, or runoff, provided that the conditions of this Code section are met.
(b) Prior to choosing to implement subsection (a) of this Code section, the election superintendent shall ensure that:
(1) Sufficient safeguards are in place to protect against an elector voting more than once in the same primary, election, or runoff;
(2) A sufficient number of ballots of each ballot style used in the county are available at each precinct polling place to accommodate electors who may choose to vote at such polling place;
(3) If DRE voting equipment is to be used at such polling places, a sufficient number of DRE voting units are available at each polling place to accommodate the potential number of electors which may vote at such polling place; and
(4) Sufficient poll workers are available at each polling place to accommodate the potential number of electors who may vote at such polling place.
(c) The election superintendent shall make the determination of whether to allow the electors of the county to vote in any precinct of the county at least 30 days prior to a primary or election and shall notify the Secretary of State in writing of such decision at least 30 days before the primary or election. The election superintendent shall notify the electors of such decision by posting prominent notices in the election superintendent’s office and on each polling place in the county. In addition, the election superintendent shall advertise the decision in the legal organ of the county once a week for two weeks immediately preceding the primary or election. If the election superintendent decides to allow the electors of the county to vote in any precinct of the county in a primary or election, such decision shall also apply to any runoff of such primary or election.
(d) The State Election Board shall be authorized to promulgate rules and regulations to implement the provisions of this Code section.
All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.