With early voting for the midterm election set to begin Oct. 17, Fair Fight is embarking on a tour urging county election boards to add more polling stations and extend the time they are open. John McCosh/Georgia Recorder (file)
Voting rights organization Fair Fight began a statewide tour Friday as it teams up with state and local leaders to press county election boards to extend early voting hours, expand weekend voting and open more polling locations.
The “Vote Gold Georgia” tour kicks off today in Augusta and Savannah with Fair Fight hosting roundtable discussions with local community leaders and state legislators. It resumes Saturday with a Savannah voter town hall starting at 1 p.m. at First Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church while other upcoming stops are scheduled for Columbus on the weekend of Aug. 19 and Camilla and Albany the following weekend. More stops are set to be added.
The tour is meant to educate Georgians about ballot-box access while putting pressure on county election boards to implement local rules that increase early voting opportunities ahead of the midterm election, which features high-profile statewide races for governor, U.S. Senate and secretary of state.
The advocacy group’s “gold standards” call for early voting sites to be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., two Sunday early voting days, and additional polling places. Fair Fight, founded by Democratic nominee for governor Stacey Abrams, argues it is critical to empower voters amid the Republican rollback of voting rules in 2021.
“With half of all Georgia voters expected to cast their ballots early in person, we will continue to urge the county board of elections in every corner of Georgia to help break down barriers to the ballot box and adopt the gold standards of early voting access. Regardless of zip code or county–every eligible voter in Georgia must have accessible voting options to ensure free and fair elections,” Fair Fight spokesman Matt Krackenberger said.
The group has celebrated recent changes to make voting more accessible, with the Fulton County election board quelling the concerns of a group of college students by opening up two days of early voting on college campuses. Earlier this week, the Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration approved its first ever Sunday voting day for the general election.
Democratic state Rep. Derek Mallow, who will be joined at the Savannah roundtable by Rep. Carl Gilliard and Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, said the fight for voting rights is being led locally by various nonprofits, coalitions of Black churches, fraternities and sororities at a crucial time for the newfound battleground state.
“I think it’s critical that every eligible voter has a say in who’s advocating for them in the halls of power. And that’s for Republicans and Democrats,” Mallow said. “With November being so close and anticipation of a greater turnout than we’ve seen in the last few previous elections, we have to be prepared to protect the right to vote.”
Multiple federal lawsuits challenging last year’s SB 202 claim that its provisions suppress Black voters and other disadvantaged groups.
Republican legislators say the record turnout for this June’s primary should dispel claims that the new law disenfranchises voters and lends credence to their arguments that changes were needed to restore confidence in state elections and add more uniformity.
Republican legislators passed the sweeping law as unfounded but rampant claims of election fraud swirled on the right following Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow victory over Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
The GOP measure added an ID requirement for mail-in ballots and shortened the period for requesting and returning absentee ballots.
The law also added more restrictions on absentee drop boxes, which were first used in Georgia during the pandemic in 2020. It also required two Saturday voting days while allowing local election officials to choose up to two Sunday during the three-week early voting period.
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