ATLANTA – The ACLU of Georgia sent letters to 20 counties urging them and all counties to adopt its proposed recommendations for uniform expanded early voting hours throughout the State of Georgia. As detailed below, the ACLU of Georgia urges counties to adopt evening and weekend hours and multiple locations that permit all Georgians true access to exercise their sacred, constitutional right to vote for elected leaders.
“Our democracy works best when everyone has a fair and equitable opportunity to participate in our elections. Georgia’s voters have long commutes, work long hours, and have demanding family responsibilities. All are entitled to a meaningful opportunity to cast their ballot,” stated Andrea Young, Executive Director of the ACLU of Georgia.
For over 150 years, America has limited voting to a single Tuesday based on the agrarian makeup of 19th-century America and the convenience of the wealthy, who were often the only ones eligible to vote. As the franchise expanded over the years, this limited, nonsensical schedule failed to reflect the day-to-day reality of most voters, especially lower-income voters. This eventually helped spark the recent emergence of early voting. Rather than being considered a matter of legislative grace, early voting should be considered the beginnings of a baseline standard of voting that should be the new norm of our socioeconomically diverse society.
Limiting early voting to a single board of elections office and to traditional business hours fails to make sense for Georgians who cannot easily take time off from work or make childcare arrangements during traditional weekday business hours. This is the reason, for instance, that Sunday voting, particularly among African-American churches, has become an integral tradition – to help congregants fulfill their civic responsibility to vote.
“The letter includes an open records request regarding each county’s plans,” said Sean J. Young, ACLU of Georgia Legal Director.
Adopting early voting hours in both evenings and weekends, as well as multiple locations, reflects the new norm of Georgia’s socioeconomically diverse society and how people live and work today, ensuring that all voters can exercise their sacred, constitutional right to vote for elected leaders.
ACLU of Georgia’s Recommendations For Early Voting Hours For All Counties
1) At least two weeks of weekday evening hours extending to 8 p.m.
2) At least two weeks of Saturday voting, with at least 8 hours each day
3) At least two weeks of Sunday voting, with at least 8 hours each day
4) Multiple early voting locations that reflect where the populations are concentrated in each county, and
5) Publicly post early voting days, hours, and locations at least 90 days in advance of an election.