Opinion: Cobb election director Janine Eveler responds to criticism of reduction in advance voting sites

absentee ballot drop boxBallot drop at the South Cobb Government Center (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

The Courier ran an opinion by Aklima Khondoker Georgia State Director of All Voting is Local this morning critical of the decision of Cobb elections and registration to cut the number of advance polling sites for the runoff election. We asked election Director Janine Eveler if she would like to respond to the criticism. She sent the following response:

I understand people’s frustrations regarding the reduction in early voting locations, but voting is not a self-serve operation.

Each early voting location must have a manager and two assistant managers present at all times, in addition to clerical help on the computers and poll workers to manage the line and assist voters.

Cobb County early voting managers and assistant managers come from our regular seasonal employee roster and not from temporary services agencies or from non-partisan organizations.

These employees are experienced in using Election Net, Georgia’s Voter Registration System, from which ballots are issued. They also have experience using the voting system over multiple days, unlike how the system is used on election day.

After the November election, I signed 15 resignations from our seasonal staff. Those remaining on the roster requested that we staff each location with twice as many managers and assistant managers, so they could each work 8-hour days instead of 14 to 15-hour days during the voting period.

Who among us would want to work 14 – 15 hours each day, 6 days a week, for 3 weeks? Well that’s what these hard-working, civic-minded individuals did during the November election. They didn’t want to work like that during the holiday period.

Not to mention that COVID has been spiking and many were anxious about so much time in the public.

In short, we were barely able to sustain 11 voting locations during the November election, but we knew it would be necessary during a presidential election. The plan was always to reduce the number to 8-9 locations for the runoff, but the shortage of management staff caused us to reduce even further than we had planned.  

To help the line move faster, we added check-in stations at all but the Main Office where space is constricted. Wait times have been less than an hour in most locations except during midday, which is always the busiest time in every election.

We are training additional employees during the first two weeks, so we can add two additional locations in Smyrna and Northeast Cobb in the final week.

Any more locations beyond that would require us to take employees away from absentee ballot processing or election day preparations, two critical operations that cannot be sacrificed for the sake of early voting expansion.

— Director Janine Eveler, Cobb County Elections and Registration