In-person early voting in Georgia’s Dec. 6 U.S. Senate runoff will be available for five days only, Monday-Friday, Nov. 28-Dec. 2, unless a judge makes a very quick ruling regarding Saturday voting, and even that would apparently leave it up to local election boards.
In Bulloch County, the planning for just five days of early voting is locked in, along with a local decision this week to extend the time for early voting each of the five weekdays by a half hour, to 5:30 p.m. There will be only one location for early voting in the runoff, the elections office area in the County Annex, 113 North Main St., Suite 201, Statesboro. The office will be open for that purpose 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., Nov. 28-Dec. 2.
Previously, including in the recent general election, the opportunity for early voting concluded at 5 p.m. each weekday. But the Bulloch County Board of Elections and Registration and election staff members agreed this week to extend daily early voting to 5:30 p.m. for those five days.
The Election Law changes enacted in early 2021 as Senate Bill 202 added a second Saturday for voting before a general election but shortened the required period before a runoff.
“Because we are aware that SB 202 shortened the amount of time for the runoff, our office along with the Board of Elections and Registration have adopted a resolution to extend the advance in-person voting hours for the first time in Bulloch County,” Election Supervisor Shontay Jones said in an email Thursday.
The 30-minute extension will be for the Dec. 6 runoff only or until further notice, she said.
Some citizens who attended a Monday meeting of the elections board expressed concern about the limited days for early voting, and board members wanted to do something, Jones said. She then checked with her staff and poll workers who agreed to be available for the extra half hour those five days. Two members of the three-member election board, present for certification of the general election results Tuesday, then approved a resolution for the extra half hour.
No Saturday voting is scheduled. Current Georgia law, which required two voting Saturdays prior to the general election, would usually allow Saturday voting in the runoff by local decision. But officials in the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office cited a portion of the law that prohibits early voting on a holiday or the day after.
Thursday, Nov. 24 is Thanksgiving, and Friday, Nov. 25 also is a state holiday, reassigned there a few years ago from Robert E. Lee’s birthday, previously a holiday for state employees in Georgia.
After Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger stated that this ruled out Nov. 26 as a day for Saturday voting, Sen. Raphael Warnock’s re-election campaign and Democratic groups filed a legal challenge in Fulton County Superior Court, but time for any court decision is limited.
The runoff between Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker will be the only race on the ballot in Bulloch County.
Meanwhile, the last day for the elections office to accept applications for paper absentee ballots to be mailed out is Monday, Nov. 28.
Bulloch County’s 16 traditional precincts will be open for Election Day voting from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6.