Lessons learned from election - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lessons learned from election

November 8, 2004

Albany - Elections officials are now preparing for the 6th election of 2004. A run-off is set for November 23nd for a seat on the State Court of Appeals. Earlier voting for the run-off between Debra Bernes and Howard Mead begins Monday November 15th and ends Friday the 19th.

More Dougherty Countians voted last Tuesday than an any previous election, and election officials say they've learned a few lessons about early voting and voter registration.

More than 4,800 people flooded into the election office the week before election day to vote early. "The advanced voting was overwhelming," said Elections Supervisor Carolyn Hatcher. "We were not prepared for that many people."

Hatcher says for the next election, she hopes to bring in more poll workers to help with early voting and to move the voting machines out of the office and into a separate room to cut down on overcrowding and long waits.

74% of registered voters cast their ballots, a record for a Dougherty County elections. But, more than 70 Albany State students didn't vote or had to cast a provisional ballot after their names weren't found on the voting list. "I've registered to vote and what do I do now," asked student Shawnta Addison on election day. The problem was most student wrote their home address, not their new college address on their voting registration form. "So that registered them to vote in their home counties rather than here.," said Hatcher. "We hope to work with the student activities people at the college to make sure that doesn't happen again."

A voter identification card would have cleared up the confusion, but "The state was overwhelmed too. Those ID cars did not get out in time. They needed to get them out at least a week before the election, so people could realize what precinct they were in, and get an absentee ballot if necessary," Hatcher said.

The record voter turn-out across the state was good for the democratic system, but hard on election officials who were swamped with thousands of new voters hoping to cast a ballot in the presidential race.

Posted at 3:50PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com

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