As more Bartow residents continue to vote early through Friday, election officials remind guests the Cartersville Civic Center, 435 W. Main St., opened Monday with more parking, volunteers and polling booths than the Bartow County Board of Elections Office at 105 N. Bartow St.
“We had more than 1,000 people come through the office last Friday. So we’ve had some big numbers and we’re always happy to see that many come out,” said Bartow County Elections Supervisor Joseph Kirk. “And they are more than welcome to come to my office, especially if they live in Emerson and want to do the special election and the general election at the same time, but for the rest of the folks who just live in Bartow County and want to vote early, the civic center might be a better option for them. There’s more parking, it’s a lot easier getting in and out if you have problems getting up the hill or stairs, there’s twice as many machines over there and there shouldn’t be as many delays. Wait time at my office has been anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour. When I’ve talked to the civic center, folks are getting in and out and not really having to wait at all.”
Kirk reminds residents to be educated on the issues and sure of their decisions before entering the voting booth. The dissemination of sample ballots is difficult for local officials due to the number of precincts involved. Sample ballots will differ depending on where residents live within the county. A total of 12 sample ballots are available on the Bartow County government website, but for personalized ballots based on the address where each voter is registered, Kirk suggests coming by one of the early voting sites or visiting the Georgia Secretary of State’s “My Voter Page” at www.sos.georgia.gov/mvp.
“You put in your first initial, your last name, your date of birth, your county of residence and it will give you all your information — where you go to vote on election day, what your sample ballot will look like, it’ll even let you track your absentee ballot in the mail if you’ve done it that way. It’s a great tool, probably a very underused tool,” Kirk said. “I urge people to use that, or if they are coming to vote early, there will be someone there right when they come in that can look up their address and give them the right sample ballot.”
Cartersville resident Blake Dudley voted Tuesday at the Cartersville Civic Center with his son, who watched his father vote and learned about the process.
“I vote early to avoid the rush. I like that we have that option. It makes the democratic process easier,” Dudley said. “For those of us that work every day, having several days to choose from makes it easier get up here and cast a vote.”
While thousands of local voters have already cast their ballots for various reasons, Kirk cleared the air on misconceptions of how votes are counted and explained measures to prevent voter fraud in absentee voting.
“All the voting going on right now is absentee voting, whether you’re voting in person or through the mail, any vote cast before election day is considered an absentee vote. And those are counted just like every other vote. There’s a nasty rumor that we only count those if it’s a close race — that’s not true at all,” Kirk said. “Whenever we issue an absentee ballot, either by mail or in person at the office or the civic center, the first thing we do is verify your identity and your eligibility. So if you’re doing it through the mail, we use the paperwork you send in to compare with what’s on file to verify you are who you say you are and you are eligible to vote in this election. If you’re in person, we use your photo ID to verify your identity and the voter registration system to verify your eligibility.
“Once we issue the absentee ballot, we mark that you voted in the statewide voter registration system and that system is linked between counties to prevent voter fraud.”