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Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 11:39am

Bill Would Shorten Early Voting

Shortening the early voting window in the state is gaining popularity in both chambers of the general assembly. A house bill passed out of a senate committee Tuesday. Many local communities pushed for the measure in order to save money.

It costs some smaller communities 100 dollars per voter to provide the option to cast a ballot 45 days up to election day. And it’s not worth it for them, says the Association of County Commissioners.

It supports a house bill that would shorten the period to three weeks, plus a mandatory Saturday.

Its sponsor Republican Mark Hamilton of Cumming says it would also clarify the voting process.

“We have examples of people casting their vote in the early voting process and then they contact the electorate office and want to change their vote because in 45 days we have people who have dropped out of the election and other things have happened, so it’s created some confusion,” says Hamilton.

Democratic Senator Doug Stoner of Smyrna opposes the measure.

“A lot of folks particularly in this state knowing our history with the long push to expand the right to vote… I would think for a lot of folks especially in the minority community there is no price you can put on voting,” says Stoner.

Under the federal Voting Rights Act, the Department of Justice would have to sign off on the idea because of that history. A similar bill in the senate would shorten the window to two weeks.

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