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Georgians start early voting: How, when, where to do it

Published: Oct. 11, 2020 at 11:15 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 12, 2020 at 7:48 AM CDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Early voting for Georgians has begun, allowing more options for voters who want to avoid lines, or worse, crowds in a pandemic.

The early voting window is from Oct. 12-30, and many Richmond County voters will head to the Bell Auditorium this year.

“I think COVID 19 has played a big factor in a lot of things, because I really don’t want to be standing in line with people that I don’t know,” said Georgia voter David Hicks.

This might be the first year of early voting for some, but for some voters, like David Peltier, it’s nothing new.

“It’s like a tradition for me. I always go on the very first day of early voting, I get it out of the way early,” said Peltier. He says he’s voted early for every single election.

Grovetown poll worker Shelley Alleyne said she knows people who haven’t voted early before might have questions, and urges people to bring them up with their local poll workers.

“If you’ve never early voted, if you’ve never voted before, the poll workers are there to help and assist you. So just come on out, and get it done early, and hopefully beat all the lines,” said Alleyne.

A lot of people are expected to vote early.

“I think number-wise, we’re going to see a record-breaking number of people coming out to vote,” said Lynn Bailey, executive director of the Richmond County Board of Elections

And a bigger crowd in the middle of a pandemic calls for a bigger space.

“Voting during a pandemic changes the whole logistical flow of a polling place from how voters approach the building to how things are going to look on the inside,” Bailey said.

This year, the biggest early voting venue will be the Bell Auditorium.

“So I think we could have we will have no more than about 75 voters in this space at one time, plus our poll workers, which would be about another 25, so we’re looking at 80 to 100 people, occupying this arena floor. So, we’ll be far from full, but we’ll be properly spaced,” Bailey said.

Here’s how it’ll work: voters will check-in and stop at the ID table, then head over to pick up a stylus, cast their vote, and drop it in the ballot box.

“So, the hope is we get more people voting by mail more people coming to advanced voting, less of a crowd voting in the polls on Election Day,” Bailey said.

For voting here at the Bell Auditorium, the only thing you need to bring is an ID and a mask.

If you need help getting to the polls, Augusta Transit will take you there. Through the month of November, all transit rides are free.

The first week of early voting wrapped up Friday in Aiken County, S.C., and it was record-breaking.

“We’ve been averaging about 550 people a day, which for the first week is very high compared to the first week of 2016,” said Michael Bond, Aiken Voter Registration and Elections Commission deputy director.

Officials estimate about 2,300 people cast their vote.

Here’s where to cast your ballot early

CSRA residents who choose to vote in advance of the Nov. 3 election may have several locations to choose from, depending on where they live. Here’s a look at advance voting sites in the three largest local counties:

Georgia

Photo ID is required. Voters are asked to wear a clean face-covering. Voting in person will likely take longer due to social distancing and the limited number of staff and voters allowed in each facility. If you choose to cancel your mail-in absentee ballot, bring it with you to the polls.

RICHMOND COUNTY

  • Bell Auditorium, 712 Telfair St. Augusta: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct 12-16 and Oct 19-23; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 24-25; 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct 26-30
  • Robert Howard Community Center, 4335 Windsor Spring Road, Augusta: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 24; 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 26-30
  • Henry Brigham Community Center, 2463 Golden Camp Road, Augusta: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 24; 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 26-30
  • Warren Road Community Center, 300 Warren Road, Augusta: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 24; 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 26-30

COLUMBIA COUNTY

  • Columbia County Building G3, 610 Ronald Reagan Drive, Evans: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 12-16, Oct. 19-23 and Oct. 26-30; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 24
  • Former Euchee Creek Library, 5907 Euchee Creek Drive, Grovetown: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 12-16, Oct. 19-23 and Oct. 26-30; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 24

South Carolina

AIKEN COUNTY

  • First Baptist Church of Windsor, 539 Middleton Drive: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 12-15
  • North Augusta Community Center, 495 Brookside Ave., North Augusta: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 12-16, Oct. 19-23 and Oct. 26-30
  • Jackson Town Hall, 106 Main St., Jackson: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 19-21
  • Graniteville Community Church, 208 Bettis Academy Road, Graniteville: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 19-23
  • Ridge Spring-Monetta High School, 1071 Trojan Road, Monetta: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 26-28
  • Wagener Volunteer Fire Department, 299 Park Ave. N.E., Wagener: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 26-29
  • H. Odell Weeks Activities Center, 1700 Whiskey Road, Aiken: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 26-30

Voting by mail

If you’re voting absentee this year, you can track the status of your ballot.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office launched a tracking system called Ballottrax so you can be sure your vote is counted.

After you sign up, you’ll be notified if your application has been accepted, when your ballot is sent and whether it’s accepted or rejected when you submit it.

South Carolina voters can vote absentee in person until Nov. 2, the day before Election Day.

If you want to request a mail-in ballot in South Carolina, the deadline is Oct. 24. In Georgia, the deadline to request a mail-in ballot is Oct. 30.

The Peach State is accepting ballots until 7 p.m. three days after Election Day, but they must be postmarked by Nov. 3.

Richmond County voters can deposit their ballots in drop boxes instead of mailing them. Drop box locations:

  • City of Augusta service center, 3463 Peach Orchard Road
  • Augusta-Richmond County municipal building, 535 Telfair St.
  • Robert Howard Community Center, 4335 Windsor Spring Road, Augusta
  • Henry Brigham Community Center, 2463 Golden Camp Road, Augusta
  • Warren Road Community Center, 300 Warren Road, Augusta

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