Georgia lawmaker introducing legislation to extend future runoff elections
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Less than 24 hours after one of the most competitive runoffs in Georgia’s history, Rep. Jasmine Clark said she plans to introduce legislation to extend future runoffs from four weeks to six weeks.
“There was not enough time for the volume of voters who wanted to participate in the runoff election,” said Dr. Clark, in an interview with Atlanta News First on Wednesday.
Dr. Jasmine Clark, D-District 108, said she plans to pre-file the legislation on Friday and formally introduce it soon after the 2023 legislative session starts on Jan. 9.
Clark said the extended timeline would allow for an extra week of early voting.
She said that an extra week would help ease some of the long lines many polling places experienced during the Senate runoff.
“Because we had such a compressed timeline, the lines for early voting were ridiculous. Nobody should have to stand in line for two hours. That is not a victory story even if it does break a record,” said Dr. Clark.
On Election Day, while celebrating the huge turnout, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he expects lawmakers to address the run-off system during the upcoming legislative session.
“The compressed schedule – I think we’ll be talking with the General Assembly about what can we do to further improve the process. We understand it’s easy to vote in Georgia, just look at the numbers and we just want to make sure it’s always a pleasurable experience,” said Raffensperger, in a press conference on Tuesday.
Clark said extending the runoff timeline not only takes the pressure off voters but off election officials as well.
“We put so much pressure on our election administrators to try and move mountains during this selection,” said continued.
“I think it’s practical. I think it really addresses some of the issues that some of the election administrators have raised about just not having enough time to do everything that needed to be done. And I think it addresses the issue of giving voters enough time to both receive and send back their absentee ballots should they want to vote absentee,” said Clark.
In Cobb County, many absentee voters were granted an extension of retuning their ballots due to delays in sending out their ballots.
Cobb County Elections Director Janine Eveler attributed those delays to a tightened timeline between the general election and this year’s Senate runoff.
“It’s just not really a good system for trying to get people to vote, which we all want to do. So, we really want the legislature to do more work on that,” said Eveler, in an interview with Atlanta News First last week.
Clark said she expects many bill proposals surrounding Georgia’s runoff system, including potential measures to change how a run-off is decided or eliminate the run-off altogether.
Clark said she’s planning on introducing a bill that, if passed, would for a work group to study the potential of a ranked-ballot system.
Essentially a ranked-choice option, which other states have implemented, asks voters to rank their preferred candidate in the case of a runoff on their general election ballot.
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