Dougherty Co. election office prepares for early voting in runoff

Early voting starts Monday for Jan. 5 runoff election.

Dougherty Co. election office prepares for early voting in runoff
Dougherty County early voting for the Georgia Senate runoffs will be at the Albany Civic Center.

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) -Election offices across Georgia reopen Monday to welcome voters back to the polls for two runoff elections. Decisions made between then at the Jan. 5 election determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

Dougherty County Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said her office is ready.

“We’re super excited, and we have the opportunity to offer our voters advanced voting at the Albany Civic Center,” Nickerson said. “We begin that process on Monday, as the state requires, on Dec. 14.”

The Dougherty County Board of Election voted to use the Albany Civic Center for early voting ahead of the Jan. 5 runoff election after residents complained of long lines during the Nov. 3 general election. According to Nickerson, the board in September voted not to use the center during the last election cycle saying it was not needed.

In November, 11 percent fewer people turned out for advanced voting than during the 2016 presidential election, according to Nickerson, who points to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent safety protocols implemented at voting sites for the delays.

COVID changes the way we do everything. It changes our world. It changes our life.”
Ginger Nickerson, Dougherty County Elections Supervisor

A statewide system issue on the first day of early voting for the general election led to a stalemate for voters in Dougherty County.

“We’re hopeful the state system is running smoothly (Monday), so that we’ll be able to process our voters because all 159 counties utilize the same system,” Nickerson said. “On the 14th, at one time or another, we’re all going to be on their together, depending on what our start time in our ending time is.”

The runoff early voting process at Albany Civic Center will be similar to what voters experienced at the Candy Room for the general election, according to Nickerson. Main changes include enough space to socially distance indoors and a separate waiting area for disabled voters and those over 75.

“We will have more staff to assist, to ensure that no one is lost in the process,” she said. “But the process is the same.

Voters will need to bring a state-issued picture ID and wear a mask to vote at the Albany Civic Center, as required by a newly reinstated mask mandate for the city of Albany.

“We want everyone to know that Thursday, Dec. 31 is their last opportunity to get out and take advantage of that advanced voting process. After the 31st, voting will be on election day, which is Tuesday, Jan. 5.”

Early Voting Days polls are open 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. each day
Week 1 December 14-18
Week 2 December 21-23 (Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)
Week 3 December 28-31 (Closed New Years Day)

All 28 Dougherty County precincts will be open election day from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., according to Nickerson.

She warned several third-party organizations requested ballots on behalf of residents. Residents can request an absentee ballot or check the status of any requested ballot by calling the elections office at (229) 431-3247 or through the Secretary of State’s website.

Four drop boxes for absentee ballots, which are under 24-hour surveillance, are set up across the county. According to Nickerson, they will be open until 7 p.m. on Jan. 5.

Absentee drop boxes for Albany Locations
Downtown Government Center: 222 Pine Avenue
East Albany Tallulah Massey Library: 2004 Statford Drive
South Albany Southside Library: 2114 Habersham Rd.
Northwest Albany Northwest Library: 2507 Dawson Rd.

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