Charlotee Sosebee has been working elections for over two decades.
Hall County’s elections director has seen the changes in the voting system that attempt to make the process easier for voters.
In 2002, Georgia passed the Help America Vote Act, aimed at addressing some of the issues with the voting system in the state. Some of the issues identified almost a decade ago were outdated voting equipment, ballot problems, long lines and unreliable technology.
To address the issues, the act called for a uniform electronic voting system, early voting, overhauling the registration system, streamlining polling place procedures and modernizing voter information resources.
Much of that, Sosebee said, was accomplished for the November 2002 general election.
The result has more registered voters.
“I think streamlining the process helps,” Sosebee said. “Technology is so user-friendly and it leans not just toward the younger people. ... I think it’s a combination of everything. The county has changed a lot.”
For the 1992 presidential election, Hall County registered 38,204 voters. More than 84 percent of those voters hit the polls.
In the last presidential election in 2008, almost 80,000 voters were registered in the county. About 76 percent of those voted.
In 2012 to date, there are more than 82,000 active registered voters in the county. Hall County’s 2011 population estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau was 183,052.
A lot of those voters will take advantage of early voting, Sosebee said, which begins Monday for the July 31 primary.
Before early voting was established in 2002, lines at the polls could get lengthy. Now voters can hit the polls several weeks in advance.
“I think it’s just popular because it’s getting the vote casted and getting it done,” Sosebee said.
Early voting for the general primary will run for 21 days. The polls will also be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 21.
Registration for the primary has closed but voters can still register for the November election. The deadline to register for that election is Oct. 9.
Hall County also utilizes “Easy Vote,” a system that keeps voters from filling out lengthy forms at the polls. The system scans the voter’s identification and matches it with the registration system. It then prints out a voter certificate form and all the voter has to do is sign it.
The county began that process in March for the presidential primary.
Most of the forms, prior to going to the polls, can be printed online, including absentee ballots, registration forms and information changes.
“I can remember when we didn’t have that,” Sosebee said. “Voters would call and request an absentee ballot and we’d have to send them one, then they’d have to fill it out and mail it back to us. It was a long process.”
Now the voter can print the form, fill it out and mail it in without having to leave the house.
“There’s not many easier ways than that,” said Sosebee. “It’s pretty accessible.”
For more information and to see a sample ballot, visit www.hallcounty.org and follow the “elections” link.