ATLANTA — After years of causing some of the longest early vote wait times of any county in Georgia, Cobb County elections officials are continuing to double-down on voter suppression, defending their latest decision to restrict early voting hours in a competitive special election by dismissing the entire critical election as “small.”
Cobb County’s elections officials, led by Janine Eveler, already have a long history of limiting access to the ballot box for Cobb voters — many of whom are voters of color. In 2021, the Cobb County Board of Elections tried to close half of its polling locations for the Senate runoff, even as other Metro counties fully maintained their number of locations. The Board of Electionsmade this decision even after Cobb voters had been forced to wait hours to vote during both the 2020 primary and the general election — where some voters waited as long as ten hours to vote early. Voters of color in the county were disproportionately impacted by closures and long wait times.
Now, following pressure from voting rights advocates, Eveler is trying to spin the indefensible decision to not keep early voting locations open for the maximum allowable amount of time ahead of the upcoming competitive special election by dismissing this election as “small” and trying to diminish its importance. Once again, instead of expanding access to voting and preventing the hours-long wait times Cobb saw during the last election cycle, officials like Eveler are doing the exact opposite, and setting the stage for yet another round of voter suppression in communities of color as they shrug away the importance of critical elections.
Read more about Cobb County’s latest restrictions on early voting:
AJC: Early voting hours reduced in Cobb election for Georgia House
By Mark Niesse
May, 18, 2021
- Early voting locations will be open fewer hours during a Cobb County special election for a Georgia House seat, a change criticized by voting rights advocates.
- Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. when early voting begins Monday to fill the seat left vacant by state Rep. Bert Reeves, a Republican from Marietta who resigned to become Georgia Tech’s vice president for institute relations.
- During last year’s presidential election and U.S. Senate runoffs, early voting was available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on most days.
- Fair Fight, a voting rights organization, said Cobb has failed to meet voters’ needs after they suffered through lines that lasted for hours during early voting last year.
- “Elections officials are still refusing to give voters every opportunity to cast their ballot early in a county full of voters of color and working-class voters with irregular hours in a special election where every vote counts,” said Hillary Holley, Fair Fight’s organizing director.
- Holley said Cobb County has a history of limiting early voting. Before the Senate runoffs, Cobb reduced its early voting locations from 11 to five and later added two more locations.