ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Across Dougherty and Lee counties, voters took advantage of in-person voting.
“There’s a lot of agreements and disagreements with voting in person or voting on an absentee ballot. So when you step in, they ask you for certain things. I feel like that’s more important than writing on a ballot and sending it. So that’s why in-person voting, whether it’s voting early or voting today is essential. And hopefully, we can get back to that line of work,” said Jesse Reed, a Lee county voter.
Due to an emergency situation and COVID-19, Lee County election officials decided to move precinct 8 to the T. Page Tharp Governmental Building.
This was the same building that was forced to close from mid-December until January 4 due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
The previous precinct 8 location, Flint Reformed Baptist Church, is still under construction just like it was for the November election.
Reed typically votes at the church.
He went there first and then found the right place.
“I mean you’re talking three and a half or four miles. So, in a car to here, if you come right to the doorstep, it’s six or seven minutes at the very most. If you took the time to go there, you’ll take the time to come here,” Reed said.
Election leaders said the Tharp building allowed for better social distancing than the church did.
Over in Dougherty County, in-person voting went well on Tuesday despite a ballot scanner at the Pinebluff precinct in East Albany malfunctioning.
The scanner is part of the new voting system by Dominion.
Ginger Nickerson, the Dougherty County elections supervisor, said it malfunctioned after being “logic and accuracy tested.”
When the scanner went out, Nickerson said voters were still able to cast their ballots by placing them into an emergency bin.
“The voters continued to vote while the scanner was being replaced. And once the scanner was replaced, those voters that voted after it was replaced were able to scan their ballots. And of course, the ballots that are in the emergency bin- when the precinct closes as 7- the manager will announce that ‘The precinct is closed. We will now begin counting our emergency ballots,’ said Nickerson.
Over at the Greenbrier precinct, Nickerson said there were so many voters that her office had to take extra machines over there to accommodate them all.
But for those that were not comfortable voting in-person, during a pandemic..they had another option.
“Of course, we are still experiencing unprecedented times with the pandemic. Of course, the methods have always been available. The only new method, of course, is the drop boxes. So, we are just fortunate that the law allows us to offer these different ways of casting ballots so people are comfortable,” said Nickerson.
Nickerson said that in this election alone, her office mailed out about 10,500 ballots to registered voters in the county.
Over in Lee County, election officials said they’ve been busy on Election Day after having a huge turnout for the Senate runoff elections.
Officials said 63 percent of active voters in the county voted in the runoff elections.
Over 20 percent of those came on Election Day.
There are currently just over 23,000 active voters in Lee county.
“Everything’s gone relatively smooth,” Veronica Johnson, Lee County director of elections, said. “We’ve had a few, little issues with poll pads and connectivity but those were very, very minor and handled very quickly.”
Johnson said those issues didn’t cause any voter delay or security threat.
All ten precincts were open for Election Day.