Update, Oct. 12: Early voting for the Nov. 3 election began Monday morning in Hall County, with voters lining up by 7 a.m. at the county’s eight early voting locations.
The Oakwood polling place on Mundy Mill Road opened at about 7:30 a.m. Monday, half an hour behind schedule, which Assistant County Administrator Zach Propes said was due to a staffing shortage at that location. Propes said he had not heard of delays at other polling places.
Previous story: Early voting for the Nov. 3 election begins Monday, Oct. 12, with Hall County having extra early voting locations and an additional absentee ballot drop box to accommodate for expected high turnout.
County voters can go to any of eight early voting locations between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays through Oct. 30. Polls will also be open during those hours on Saturday, Oct. 24.
In addition to the absentee ballot drop box located outside the Hall County Government Center, a second box has been set up outside Spout Springs Library in Flowery Branch. Both boxes are locked, well-lit and under 24-hour video surveillance. Voters can also drop off their absentee ballots in a designated location within each early voting site during voting times.
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Elections Director Lori Wurtz said Friday that about 26,000 voters in Hall had been sent their absentee ballots, and about 5,000 of those ballots had been returned. In the November 2016 election, 4,138 people voted by mail, and in November 2018, 4,293 voted by mail, so absentee voting in this election has already surpassed both those elections.
Wurtz said the county is expecting high turnout, possibly exceeding the 78% turnout in 2016 and 58% turnout in 2018.
To avoid crowding and wait times at polls, Wurtz said the county decided to establish additional locations for early voting. In past elections, early voting has been available at the Hall County Government Center, with additional spots only opening during the last week of early voting. The government center will not host voting for this election — the space has not been used during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it requires elevator access and could not accommodate for social distancing.
When: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays Oct. 12-30, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24
- Mulberry Creek Community Center, 4491 J.M. Turk Road, Flowery Branch
- Mundy Mill Road Precinct, 4335 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood
- East Hall Community Center, 3911 P. Davidson Road, Gainesville
- North Hall Community Center, 4175 Nopone Road, Gainesville
- City of Gainesville Downtown Building (old Turner Wood and Smith building), 100 Brenau Ave., Gainesville
- Murrayville Library, 4796 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville
- Spout Springs Library, 6488 Spout Springs Road, Flowery Branch
- Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center Activity Hall, 1855 Calvary Church Road, Gainesville
Offering additional early voting locations around the county should prevent long lines at a single polling place, Wurtz said.
“We don’t want voters to have to wait in line any longer than absolutely necessary,” she said.
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, poll workers will wear masks and sanitize equipment between voters. Voters are also asked to stay six feet apart and are encouraged to wear masks to the polls, Wurtz said.
Wurtz said the county had almost reached its goal of 600 poll workers as of Friday and was still accepting applications.
While Hall County government has experienced email and phone outages this week due to a ransomware attack on the county’s networks, voting machines will be unaffected, Wurtz said. The machines are issued by the state and do not connect to the internet, she said. The state is still mailing ballots, while counties will take over that process closer to the election.
Requesting a ballot
- Use the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office online portal at securevotega.com/secureabsentee/
- Call the Hall County Elections Office at 678-696-2501
- Voters must request an absentee ballot by 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30
Turning in a ballot
- The elections office must receive voted ballots by 7 p.m. Nov. 3
- Bring it to an early voting location during voting hours
- Mail to Hall County Elections, PO Box 1435, Gainesville, GA 30503
- Put in one of two drop boxes
- Outside Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville
- Outside Spout Springs Library, 6488 Spout Springs Road, Flowery Branch