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Elections workers stack ballots at Jim Miller Park in November.

Two days before Gov. Brian Kemp signed state Republicans’ hotly-debated omnibus elections bill, Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler told the Board of Commissioners the law will have consequences for Cobb’s nearly 550,000 registered voters.

Janine Eveler

Janine Eveler

In the aftermath of a chaotic week that saw Senate Bill 202 become law as a Democratic lawmaker was removed from the Capitol in handcuffs, the county is left to navigate a slew of new voting regulations.

Eveler’s presentation last Tuesday focused on the portions of the bill which will have a direct bottom-line impact on the county, steering clear of other measures such as the ban on handing out food and water to voters in line.

One significant provision is the mandate that the county provide polling locations on two Saturdays during the early voting period for all elections. Previously, state law only required early voting options on one Saturday. Cobb was already providing that option for “the big elections,” Eveler said, but now the county will have to spend money on those locations for every election.

Absentee ballots, meanwhile, must now be printed on what the bill calls “security paper,” to aid in authenticating each ballot. Eveler said that requirement alone could increase ballot printing costs by as much as 50%.

Much of the $32,240 spent on 16 absentee ballot drop boxes in Cobb looks to be a sunk cost. Though most of those funds came through CARES Act money, SB 202 will limit Cobb to just five drop boxes, Eveler said. The boxes must be located inside of a polling place or elections office, available only during early voting hours, which also negates the need for the $317,000 the Board of Elections requested for accompanying security measures.

Chairwoman Lisa Cupid urged county leaders to speak out against the legislation in her State of the County address last month. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” she said when Eveler detailed the drop box restrictions.

Cupid .jpg

Lisa Cupid

Not all of the new regulations will end up costing the county.

Eveler told commissioners the consolidation of state and federal runoffs into one occasion, four weeks after the general election, will save money for her department. Similarly, relaxed requirements on how many voting booths must be in place per voter should reduce wear and tear on machines, Eveler said.

State Rep. Don Parsons, R-north Cobb, pushed back against criticisms of what he says is a “good bill,” saying nothing about SB 202 is “unusual amongst the 50 states.”

Don Parsons

Don Parsons

“There’s nothing in there that creates any problems for the county elections office. There’s nothing in there that’s going to create any kind of problems or roadblocks ... for voters in this state,” Parsons said.

The ramifications of SB 202’s signing, however, are already rippling beyond Board of Elections procedure. As MLB Players Association Director Tony Clark told the Boston Globe Friday, players are open to discussing whether the 2021 All-Star Game, planned to be held at Truist Park in July, should be moved from Georgia.

“I think it would be a real shame if Cobb County lost out on the opportunity to show ourselves off to the world with the MLB All-Star Game because of this package of voter restrictions — that was passed based on the big lie that the election was stolen from Donald Trump,” state Rep. Teri Anulewicz, D-Smyrna, said, adding she still hopes to see the game be played in Cobb.

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Teri Anulewicz

Former Republican county commissioner Bob Ott said he saw the Players Association’s threat as a disappointing convergence of sports and politics.

“We’re just coming off a pandemic. I know, a lot of people, myself included, are looking forward to going to baseball games. And I’m not sure how well it would be received,” Ott said.

Bob Ott

Bob Ott

To that point, Parsons said while he respected MLB players’ right to disagree with the law, he was skeptical the game would be moved.

“We don’t want that to happen,” Parsons said. “I would say that our Democratic legislators down here who voted against the bill, I would say they don’t want things like that, because it’s gonna hurt people in Georgia.”

Cupid, speaking with the MDJ Friday, condemned SB 202 as a “decision that disenfranchises our very own.”

“These were decisions that were made by leaders who are charged with protecting our civic and economic interests,” she said both of the law and the news that the All-Star Game could be pulled. “I’m not one that likes to talk about things just to commiserate. What has been done has been done.

“But as much as this may impact baseball, this is bigger than baseball. This is about our voters having a voice, and choosing leaders that reflect the majority interests of citizens, which is a fundamental consideration of our democracy. There are bigger conversations to be had. While it may include our immediate interest in that Major League Baseball game, there are far more weighty implications for the health of our state, the health of our county, and how that impacts everything that we do.”

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(14) comments

William Hicks

Can anyone explain how this new law will "disenfranchise" any voter? Please be specific.

CRAIG BARFIELD

These Democrats are lying about this bill. It is a good bill that secures the vote, takes away any concern people had over the election getting stolen. It puts absentee drop off boxes in secure locations. It increases the # of weekend days for early voting. It requires for vote counters to continue into the night until they are finished. No more early morning surprises. If a precint has lines longer than 30 minutes they have to open up new lines to vote. Absentee voters have to put their drivers liscense or state ID # instead of a signature. They also have to put their DOB. The Democrats are using false narratives about Jim Crowe and voter suppression to raise money on. They are willingly lying about this bill.

Allie Bradford

Exactly. The lies I've heard by Democrats on TV are astounding.

Mike Nelson

Lisa Cupid is upset ! Get over it ! An ID is required to see an R rated movie at some theaters. The democratic members are furious because it makes sense and now they can’t stuff boxes and have the deceased vote all Democratic. Bravo on this bill. Get over it Lisa and Stacy.

David Glass

In the last 2 elections, the only fraud identified (with actual evidence) was in Florida and N.C. and both involved Republicans. If you can't see how this law makes it harder for poor folks to vote, you don't care about the right to vote. It's fundamental to democracy. We passed a law to solve a non-issue. There was no fraud in Georgia. It's obvious from your comments that you have given no thought to people who don't own cars and can't leave work to vote early. We should be making it easier to vote and this bill clearly intends to make it harder. Not to mention throwing away money already spent in the larger counties. We should all be registered to vote when we turn 18, like the draft. Signature matching does actually happen and a Republican and Democrat volunteer is allowed to watch over it. If you really believe it's ballot manipulation, try volunteering for the next election. It might open your eyes to the existing layers of election security.

William Hicks

So no disenfranchising of their vote, just makes it harder? And by the way, we live in a republic. A democracy is mob rule.

Mike Nelson

David, when you pay people to vote and load up buses of people you found on the streets. When a deceased person votes , voters are intimidated and 16 ballots of the same person shows up we have a problem. I have no problem with the candidates let’s just make the playing field the same.

Allie Bradford

You might want to actually read up on that before you post. Here in Cobb County it was recently reported HERE they made a number of arrests for voter fraud. In Texas they've arrested a bunch of people and filed 150 charges of voter fraud.

As far as signature matching, it DID NOT happen here due to the consent agreement with Stacey Abrams' PAC's that de facto made it logistically impossible to accomplish.

richard plent

Let them have the game but arrest anyone who delivers food to the crowd. And hold the game on a weekday afternoon but the game must end by 5pm.

Allie Bradford

Do you even know that the 5 pm time only applies to early voting, and do you further know that water can be given out 150 feet from the polling place, and do you further know that anyone can preserve their place in line to go get some? Also do you know that the bill ADDS Saturday and Sunday voting and PRESERVES drop boxes that were otherwise going to be eliminated?

David Glass

Bill, you're playing semantics with Democracy and a Republic. You are also moving the goal posts when you use the term 'disenfranchise' and then say; well it does make it harder to vote, but we don't threaten people not to vote; so no voters are disenfranchised. And Allie, please volunteer with the County. The mail-in ballots are signature matched, but once the envelope was opened and recorded, they were not stored together, so you couldn't match it a second time. Your Texas story was 150 people in the entire state of Texas (since 2004!). So, 150 people have been charged over a 17 year period in a State as large as Texas. Houston - we have a problem. Finally, who cares if "people off the street" are rounded up and vote. Their vote counts as much as yours and mine. Its one thing to fight a real problem and another to create a lie just to say you're solving it. We have more serious problems in our State, but those issues don't move the needle. Suicide rates, education costs, rising health care costs - non-partisan issues, but we just kick the can down the road.

William Hicks

Semantics??? No sir, it is our Constitution, not semantics. And I did not say it was harder to vote, I was simply questioning your logic that it is somehow going to be harder to vote. I have voted in every election since 1980 and I have had to wait in line to vote, I have voted early, I have voted early the day of the vote and I have been in line at the 7pm deadline and voted. This BS about this law making it harder to vote is absurd. Soon you will want people to be able to vote from their homes with no accountability and when one side starts demanding I give up some of my constitutional rights, like the right to free speech and the right to bear arms, under a cloud of mystery surrounding the voting process, I take issue with that. BTW, those rights are not "granted" by the constitution but were simply acknowledged by it. And the words, shall not be infringed, need to be followed.

Allie Bradford

Not sure where you're coming up with your "disenfranchise" comments. Nobody is being disenfranchised at all. And your statistics about voter fraud are completely incorrect. Cobb County MAY have matched signatures on the enveloples (which is news to me), but other metro counties did not. Below is from an article from Epoch Times which came out recently:

"A South Texas county justice of the peace was among four people arrested last month on 150 counts of voter fraud related to the 2018 primary election in Medina County, according to reports.

The Texas attorney general’s Election Fraud Unit on Feb. 11 arrested Medina County Justice of the Peace Tomas Ramirez, after earlier detaining Leonor Rivas Garza, Eva Ann Martinez, and Mary Balderrama on allegations of election fraud, News4SA reported.

The case involves claims of vote harvesting at assisted living centers in Medina County in the 2018 election, according to a statement from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office."

Allie Bradford

Additionally, you seem to be okay with vote harvesting. Anyone can plainly see that voter harvesting is ripe for fraud. Years ago when my grandmother was in a nursing home, the staff was "voting" for the residents and turning in the ballots. You need to ask yourself why an organization or individual needs to collect ballots from other people in the first place.

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