Early voting running smoothly despite some questioning software

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – Once again, Gilmer County is returning to the ballot box for the early voting procedures for the 2020 elections, though this time addressing the runoff elections.

With the actual election day in January and early voting continuing through the end of 2020, Sherri Jones, boardmember of the Board of Voter Registration and Registrar for Gilmer County, said that the lines have been going smoother than in November. Sharing with FYN an update, she noted that many citizens have commented on the easier and quicker progression through the lines.

Early Voting

A small line forms as voters wait to enter the Registrar’s Office for in-person early voting in Gilmer County.

Jones said the staff has stayed very busy with three check-in stations processing voters and five voting machines in operation. She also noted that they have run four check-in stations if a line starts to build up as well. This is not any different as Jones said they operated similarly in the November Election.

However, Jones said a smaller ballot helps some as people are spending less time on the machines deciding and registering their votes. As they have gone through their first two completed days of operation in early voting, Gilmer saw 576 early voters on Monday, and 601 early voters on Tuesday. As they near completion of their third day, Jones said they have audited their lines and operations several times, never seeing more than a maximum of 15 minutes waiting in line.

But in almost three days, the in-person total of 1,637 in-person voters are only a third of the story. Jones said that between the state and county, they have 3,368 registered ballots in the mail locally and another 42 ballots sent digitally to those in military service overseas.

Early Voting

With only 15 minutes wait-times reported, Gilmer’s voters and registrars are both pleased with way the runoff election is performing in the opening days of early voting.

These are being returned via mail or through the ballot-box drop-off in front of the courthouse. Processing these comes with its own challenges as officials must register the ballots, confirm signatures, and, in some cases, re-mail confirmations. Jones said that a few of their by-mail ballots have had to have confirmation forms sent out to re-affirm signatures that may have been questioned or rejected. Jones said that, for example, they cannot accept ballots signed by a spouse. Citizens voting by mail should keep an eye out just in case they might be one of the few needing to sign a secondary form.

However, with all the normal challenges of operating the early voting process, Jones said the biggest issue they have faced so far is faith in the machines.

Jones said that they have had several people questioning their votes and the Dominion software used in counting them.

She said the office is assuring the public that they have confirmed the operations and counting software after having gone through the November Election, an audit and hand-counted-recount of that election, and a second recount of the ballots through the machines. All of which matched “to the ‘T,'” according to Jones.

They are continuing early voting through the next two weeks until New Years as the office is remaining open except for the recognized holidays. As previously reported from Chief Registrar Tammy Watkins, as of now, early voting will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, December 24 and 25, as well as for New Year’s Day, January 1.

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