Paulding’s election supervisor says four-hour wait times some voters endured in 2018 could be a thing of the past beginning in November.
The Paulding County Board of Elections today, Sept. 23, was expected to finalize a plan to increase by 50% the number of Election Day voting locations countywide and add more early voting sites before the Nov. 5 county and municipal elections, said elections supervisor Deidre Holden.
The elections board likely will approve a new list of 17 voting locations and three early voting sites to be used Nov. 5, Holden said.
“We think it’s going to be a better opportunity for our voters not to have to wait for a very long time when they go to cast their vote,” she told the Paulding County Board of Commissioners Thursday.
On Nov. 5, voters countywide are set to vote on renewal of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for schools, and Dallas and Hiram residents will vote to fill mayor and city council seats.
Paulding voters also will make their choices on new, paper-based machines from Dominion Voting Systems. The state government recently bought the machines and sought to use Paulding as a test site for them before the 2020 elections.
Holden said approval of major changes to voting locations is “not something we enjoy doing” because it interferes with what voters are accustomed to.
“But it’s something we have to do to make sure that our voters are getting the best treatment that they can, that they are not having to be inconvenienced by waiting for three or four hours in line because of the way that our county is growing,” Holden said.
Increasing to 17 voting locations from 12 in 2018 is part of a plan to serve a growing number of registered voters while moving away from use of schools as voting precincts because of timing and safety concerns, Holden said.
“This county is growing,” she said. “With growth comes change, and nobody likes change.”
The elections office added more than 19,000 registered voters to its rolls since December 2018 to bring the county’s total to about 118,000, Holden said.
Most of the new voters live in the county’s eastern edge -- from the Cedarcrest Road area bordering Cobb County in the north to the Douglas County line in the south, she said.
“It was necessary to do something to accommodate the voters in that area so we decided that we would add some polling locations, change some precincts to make those additions, and that’s what we have come up with,” she said..
The proposed change adds 12 new voting locations; removes six schools and a park gymnasium from the list; and retains five precincts used in 2018.
It also includes two new early voting locations at Burnt Hickory Park on Cartersville Highway in north Paulding, and the Dianne Wright Innovation Center on Bethel Church Road in south Paulding.
The Watson Government Building in Dallas was the only early voting site in 2018 and will remain one under the new plan, Holden said.
The elections office and board “wanted to get (voters) acclimated because we have the opportunity with a countywide election this November for the voters to know where the polling locations will be,” Holden said.
She said the 2020 election year will include presidential, federal, state and county elections and “is not a time you want to open the gates and start changing polling locations.”
“We have worked very hard on this,” she said. “This is not something that happens overnight. We have literally been working on this since July.”
The elections board was set for a special called meeting today to approve the final list — after which voters will be able to see their new precincts by Sept. 27 on the Georgia Secretary of State’s online My Voter Page, Holden said.
The county elections office also will notify voters about the changes to their voting locations and send them new cards with their voting locations “once everything is finalized,” she said.