Fulton County leaders agreed to spend an additional $1.55 million on elections this year, a total that includes the cost of adding two new early voting locations for the 6th Congressional District runoff election.
Commissioners also elected a new vice chairman, following the death last month of Commissioner Joan Garner, who had served in the role. An election to replace Garner has been scheduled for Nov. 7.
With the 6th District runoff in June, a state senate runoff for District 32 later this month and a county-wide referendum in November, Fulton will run at least three elections this year. The possibility of three more accounts for half the total cost.
Fulton could add an election in September depending on when State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, who has announced his candidacy for mayor of the city, resigns his seat. That election could also require an October runoff. And if Fulton County Chairman John Eaves, who is also running for mayor, resigns his seat, the November election could require a December runoff, as could the race for Garner’s replacement.
Richard Barron, Fulton’s director of registration and elections, said he wanted to expand early voting, particularly for the 6th District race. It features Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel, and is widely seen as a referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency.
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The county will have 16 days of early voting at six locations: the county’s North Fulton Service Center and the Ocee, Milton, East Roswell, Roswell and Alpharetta libraries. Early voting begins May 30 and will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Additionally, eight schools that are undergoing renovations won’t be available to serve as voting locations. Barron plans to send out new precinct cards and letters to the affected voters telling them where they will be able to vote.
Bob Ellis, who was elected as vice chairman Wednesday, said he hoped the additional early voting locations would help the elections process go smoothly. After the April 18 election, the county was lambasted for an error that delayed vote totals in the closely watched 6th District race.
“Everybody wants it to go exceptionally smooth for the runoff,” he said. “If there’s more early voting, there’s a better chance of having a smooth election day without long lines.”
Ellis, who was first elected in 2014, was approved as vice chairman by a 4-0 vote. Commissioner Emma Darnell was absent and Commissioner Marvin Arrington abstained. A Republican, he brings bipartisan leadership back to the board. Garner was a Democrat, as is Eaves.
Ellis said he hoped he filled the role with the same “integrity, honor and dignity” that his predecessor did.