Monday, April 11, 2011

Secretary of State Kemp Applauds Passage of Bipartisan Early Voting Reform

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp applauded the Georgia General Assembly for its bipartisan support and passage of HB 92 to enact reforms to the state’s early voting period and process. HB 92 now goes to Governor Nathan Deal for his signature.

Secretary Kemp said, “Georgia citizens enjoy the greatest election access in the nation with our early voting period for casting ballots in-person and by mail, and increased access to mail-in ballots for military and overseas voters through our MVP voter education website. HB 92 improves early voting by making the voting period consistent throughout the state and reducing costs for county election offices, while protecting the voter’s ability to cast their ballot 45 days prior to Election Day. I also would like to thank State Representative Mark Hamilton for introducing this common sense legislation.”

HB 92 makes the following key changes to the early voting process.

First, the bill provides a uniform starting date for Georgia elections and reduces the in-person early voting period to 21 days. Shortening the required in-person early voting period will free up critically needed resources in Georgia counties, while not compromising the ability of any voter to cast their ballot early.. In fact, recent elections have shown that 80 percent of Georgians who vote early in person do so in the three weeks prior to Election Day.

Second, HB 92 increases early voting opportunities by allowing counties to increase the hours of voting throughout the week, and requires them to conduct elections on at least one Saturday, provided that it not be the Saturday immediately prior to Election Day. Counties may also include additional weekend voting opportunities at their discretion.

Third, HB 92 does not in any way affect a voter’s option or ability to cast an absentee or mail-in ballot 45 days prior to Election Day. HB 92 only affects in-person early voting.

Secretary Kemp added, “The Secretary of State’s Elections Division will work closely with Georgia’s county elections offices to make sure they are prepared for all aspects of early voting. It is our expectation that the counties will be able to accommodate their voters under the new time frame required under HB 92.”

Brian Kemp has been Secretary of State since January, 2010. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting efficient and secure elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities and professional license holders. The office also oversees the Georgia Archives and the Capitol Museum.

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