ACLU of Georgia

Students plea for on-campus voting as Fulton County rolls back locations

Savannah Louie and Jamarlo Phillips | CBS46 | August 10, 2022

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) – A Fulton County Board of Elections meeting to disclose preliminary voting sites could impact tens of thousands of students casting ballots in the fall.

Georgia State University sophomore Mason Goodwin shared concerns the county could forego early in-person voting on college campuses.

“We rely on these sites, especially during early voting,” explained Goodwin.

Goodwin’s fears were ignited after no Fulton County universities provided early in-person voting on campus for the May primary election. The county previously helped facilitate opportunities for presidential and state elections starting in 2018.

In July, the American Civil Liberties Union of Atlanta said it confirmed county officials had no plans to provide early voting on any college or university campus.

“We have a lot of first-time voters,” said Goodwin. “When we’re able to say you can vote on campus right now, that’s a huge benefit for them.”

Goodwin said a group of college students plans to attend the Fulton County Board of Elections meeting Thursday to share why these opportunities are so important.

Vasu Abhiraman, Senior Policy Counsel for American Civil Liberties Union, also encouraged leaders to rethink their decision.

“There’s going to be a lot of interest in voting,” said Abhiraman. “We want to make sure early in-person voting access is available for college students after many cycles where early in-person voting was present on a college campus for students in Fulton County.”

On-campus voting has benefitted students from Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, and the Atlanta University Center HBCUs: Morehouse, Spelman, Clark Atlanta, and Morris Brown.

The county’s decision to remove early on-campus voting in May could be due to logistical and staffing challenges.

Rolling back these voting cites threatens a population that is historically disenfranchised and a population that cannot easily access transportation.

“We want to make sure early voting is accessible for each and every Georgian. It’s much tougher to vote at a precinct you’re not assigned to on election day and its much tougher to vote by mail,” said Abhiraman. “We don’t want to inconvenience students to the point where they’re deciding between going to class one day or going to vote.”

Voting rights advocates hold optimism some on-campus voting sites could be restored before fall; but believe not all of them will.

“Usually by this time, these early voting plans have been locked down. All the contacts have been made,” said Abhiraman. “Going into this fall election we don’t want to see that good precedent that was set for early voting access disappear.”

Fulton County Board of Elections did not respond to CBS46′s request for comment.