Chatham Co. Board of Elections addressing primary voting problems ahead of Nov. election

Chatham Co. Board of Elections addressing primary voting problems ahead of Nov. election
Chatham County experienced some growing pains at the polls during the June 9 primary, adjusting to new voting technology at some new polling sites, all during a pandemic. (Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Chatham County experienced some growing pains at the polls during the June 9 primary, adjusting to new voting technology at some new polling sites, all during a pandemic.

But the Chatham County Board of Elections chairman is talking with WTOC about the changes made to ensure voters have a smoother experience in November.

During the Presidential Preference Primary in June, lines formed early as some polling locations didn’t open on time, and had to stay open later as a result. Board of Elections members said then a lot of the issues came down to poll worker training.

“There were problems getting everybody trained there," said Chatham County Board of Elections Chairman Thomas J. Mahoney III. "And I think one comment coming from our training staff that really resonated with me was that there was some concern, anxiety, fear from our poll workers. So if something didn’t go right as they were hurrying to rush to set equipment up, that led to, oh no, what’s going to happen here?”

For the November general election, he believes poll workers will be better prepared.

“It’s less thrown together.”

Mahoney says they’ll also have better technical assistance if they have any issues getting the new machines up and running.

“The Secretary of State has worked hard to get us more techs, I appreciate that. Our staff has also worked hard to recruit more techs, so we’ll be able to have maybe not one tech per poll as hoped, but maybe we can have fewer polls for each tech to have to cover.”

Mahoney says another difference maker will be the volunteers themselves, and that Chatham County residents have stepped up to help out in November.

“There’s going to be the same issue of having new machines and a new process, not just new machines but a new process. So having extra poll workers is going to be really a benefit.”

Mahoney says his tip to voters now is to not wait to register to vote, and find out where your polling locations are if you aren’t voting absentee.

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