CATOOSA COUNTY, Ga. — Early voting in Georgia for the Senate runoff between Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican Candidate Herschel Walker may be causing concern and confusion for voters.
A week ago, a Georgia appeals court denied the state's request to stop in-person early voting this past Saturday after Thanksgiving.
But after surveying all the counties in the NewsChannel 9 viewing area, we learned none of them offered Saturday voting in this runoff.
"I was aware that some places had denied the right for citizens to vote across Georgia," says Bruce Sloane, Catoosa County resident. "And I was truly surprised to find that it happened here in Ringgold, Georgia, of all places. They call it the Freedom Center. But the doors were closed at the Freedom Center."
At 11am on Monday, the voters at the Freedom Center in Catoosa County were mostly those from the retired crowd.
Some voters voiced concerns about college students who could have voted on Saturday before returning to school, and voters who may have to work from 9am to 5pm not making it to the polls before closing.
"Because there is less time we're probably gonna see less turnout," says Charles Bullock, UGA Political Science Professor. "One of the interesting things we do see is that younger voters that will be ages 18 to 29 have done reasonably well so far. So maybe that in those counties, which did have Saturday voting, some students who are home are not going to be coming home again next Tuesday. There's undoubtedly going to be some people who this narrow window of only one week, as opposed to multiple weeks that we had two years ago, means that some people who would like to vote just aren't going to fit it in their schedule."
Others say there was no time to prepare after the Georgia appeals courts decision to stop in-person early voting the Saturday after Thanksgiving. They also say they did not have enough people to uphold the training requirements and standards.
"All the North Georgia counties, including Catoosa County, have bases that we can't do this," says John Pless, Catoosa County spokesperson. "We cannot get enough of our election workers in time, and to get everything set up with just a week's notice to do a Saturday voting, especially when it falls just 24 or 48 hours after a holiday when people are out of town."
But Sloane says the county should have found a way.
"Certainly, we should pay what it takes to those workers to help us have a fair voting precinct," says Sloane.
Catoosa County’s Facebook page says they will offer extended hours for voting, on Thursday December 1st, for those who work 9-5.
Whitfield County is also staying open until 7p.m. on Thursday.
And on Election Day, December 6th, polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.'
Depend on us to keep you updated.