Letter to 20 Counties Urging Them to Adopt Early Voting Hours and Locations that Serve All Voters
On September 18, 2018, the ACLU of Georgia sent letters to 20 counties urging them and all counties to adopt its proposed recommendations for uniform expanded early voting hours throughout the State of Georgia.
In its letters, the ACLU of Georgia urged counties to adopt evening and weekend hours and multiple locations that permit all Georgians true access to exercise their sacred, constitutional right to vote for elected leaders. The letter also included an open records request regarding each county’s plans.
“Voting is a sacred, constitutional right and the cornerstone of our democracy, and the ACLU of Georgia expresses its gratitude for your hard work in protecting that right. To that end, we write to express recommendations concerning early voting hours and locations that will serve all voters, regardless of income level or socioeconomic background,” the ACLU of Georgia began.
For over 150 years, America has limited voting to a single Tuesday based on the agrarian makeup of 19th-century America and the convenience of the wealthy, who were often the only ones eligible to vote. As the franchise expanded over the years, this limited, nonsensical schedule failed to reflect the day-to-day reality of most voters, especially lower-income voters. This eventually helped spark the recent emergence of early voting.
Rather than being considered a matter of legislative grace, early voting should be considered the beginnings of a baseline standard of voting that should be the new norm of our socioeconomically diverse society.
“Limiting early voting to a single board of elections office and to traditional business hours fails to make sense for Georgians who cannot easily take time off from work or make childcare arrangements during traditional weekday business hours. This is the reason, for instance, that Sunday voting, particularly among African-American churches, has become an integral tradition – to help congregants fulfill their civic responsibility to vote,” the letter continued.
The ACLU of Georgia urged all counties to adopt the following set of early voting hours that ought to be the Gold Standard for our modern democracy to ensure equal access to the vote to all voters regardless of their socioeconomic status or where they live, and to prevent voter confusion.
Adopting early voting hours in both evenings and weekends, as well as multiple locations, reflects the new norm of Georgia’s socioeconomically diverse society and how people live and work today, ensuring that all voters can exercise their sacred, constitutional right to vote for elected leaders.
ACLU of Georgia’s Recommendations For Early Voting Hours For All Counties
At least two weeks of weekday evening hours extending to 8 p.m.
At least two weeks of Saturday voting, with at least 8 hours each day
At least two weeks of Sunday voting, with at least 8 hours each day
Multiple early voting locations that reflect where the populations are concentrated in each county, and
Publicly post early voting days, hours, and locations at least 90 days in advance of an election.