Chatham Co. sees fewer early voters than other counties in Georgia
CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Early voting started in Georgia on October 17th and a look at the latest numbers show that Chatham County has fewer early voters than other Georgia counties with a similar population size.
Based on the latest census data, about an eighth of Chatham County’s population has turned out to vote so far.
Compare that a fifth of Henry County which is just southeast of Atlanta.
51,000 fewer people live there, but 10,000 more people have cast ballots as of Wednesday morning.
Chatham County Board of Registrars Colin McCrae says the statewide comparison doesn’t paint the whole picture, though, because this year, they’ve seen better early voter turnout.
“Comparing these numbers to 2018 is really the apples to apples comparison. And we were, as of the end of the first week, about 28%t ahead of where early voter numbers were in 2018. 2020, being a presidential election, we looked at the difference, and we were still about 8%t above what the early voting numbers were,” said McCrae.
A look at number of polling locations in Chatham County, and how long they’re open for, shows the biggest difference from some of the counties with higher turnout.
Henry County has six polling locations that are all open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through the week.
Cherokee County and Clayton County, which has 11 polling locations each, open the majority of their locations before 9 a.m. and don’t close until 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, Chatham County has five polling locations. Only one of those is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., while the other four are open fewer hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“If they could be open either before 8 or after 5, that would be great. I work 8 to 5, so I had to take a long lunch today, which will affect my hours,” said early voter Audrilyn Baldwin.
“We’re living in a county, a city, where we have a lot of working class people, and they’re not always available to just get off and vote by 5 p.m. Many of them have to be up very early, before the 9 a.m. hours. So Chatham County Board of Elections may look again,” said early voter Patricia A. West.
McRae said the county has looked at expanding early voting hours but it just isn’t feasible with the resources they have and doesn’t necessarily mean more people will come vote.
“One misconception is that if you open up these early voting sites for additional hours, that it corresponds to additional votes. We see the lowest rate of voter participation in the later afternoon, early evening hours. So opening it up for say, two additional hours in the evening, wouldn’t necessarily mean a corresponding number of votes,” said McRae.
Friday is the last day for early voting in Georgia.
Election day, which is Tuesday, November 8th is less than a week away.
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