Dougherty Co. leaders demand extended early voting hours
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Leaders in Dougherty County are banning together to use their voices to get more people to vote.
Activists in Albany are asking that the Dougherty County Board of Elections extended its early voting hours in order to hopefully bring more people to the polls.
Although early voting this year in comparison to previous years is higher, Dougherty County’s early voting turnout rate is the fifth lowest in the state out of all 159 counties.
Gregory Fullerton is a member of the Democratic Committee for Dougherty County.
“Right now, the hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. There are a lot of people who are working, who basically their job hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m.,” Fullerton said. “Or they have to drop children off at school in the morning. And it’s difficult for them to be voting early. And, of course, we don’t have the option of Saturday and Sunday voting between now and the election.”
Fullerton said these hours, and other contributing factors, are a form of voter suppression.
“Valdosta, Lowndes County have expanded their hours to 7 a.m.-7 p.m. And they’re now, they’re a county around our size. And they’ve already had about a 17% voter turnout so far. Whereas in Dougherty County, we’ve had 11%,” he said.
Fullerton also said other counties such as Richmond has expanded their early voting locations, Ultimately resulting in an increased voter turnout.
Shirley Sherrod, wife of the late voting activist Charles Sherrod, was also in attendance. She said people need to be given a fair chance to elect people who represent their views and the needs of Dougherty County.
“Please, remember the road of the slaves who fought,” Sherrod said. “Of our people who fought during reconstruction. Of our people who fought during Jim Crow. And our people who fought during the Civil Rights Movement. Please, do not take the right to vote lightly. It’s our way of bringing the change we need to see here in Southwest Georgia.”
The Dougherty County Board of Elections will hold a meeting on Wednesday at the Government Center to make a decision on this issue.
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