CONYERS - Campaigns may be the biggest losers as citizens take advantage of early voting in the General Election.
The polling place for in-person absentee voting set up at the Rockdale County Board of Elections and Voter Registration on Parker Road has been busy since voting started Friday. Elections Supervisor Cynthia Welch said over 1,300 people have come in to cast an absentee ballot in the three days of voting.
Vera Redwine was one of those who voted Wednesday. Redwine's reason for voting early was shared by others this week.
"No lines, no lines and no lines," Redwine said. "There was no waste of time, and we were in and out quick."
She added, "It also offers you a choice. You can pick a day as nice as today to come out to vote. If you wait until Election Day, you pretty much will have to deal with what comes with the weather."
Election officials across the state are hoping more people heed Redwine's advice. With the Georgia Secretary of State's office expecting a record 4 million people to cast ballots this year, resources will be stretched to their limits to accommodate voters on Election Day.
Welch believed poll workers here will be able to handle the crowds on Nov. 4, but said she would feel better if 15 to 20 percent of the county's 46,472 voters cast ballots during the 30 days early voting is available before the General Election.
If there's anybody put at a disadvantage in the new voting dynamics, it's the candidates people are voting for, according to Rogers Wade, president and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, an independent, public policy think tank that focuses on issues in Georgia.
Wade said campaigns by nature are designed to peak, usually a few days before the election, to capture undecided voters on Election Day. However, that is becoming difficult as more people vote early.
Most of the early votes are likely cast by candidates' base supporters, Wade said, but the big unknown is the undecided voter and when he will make up his mind to vote - tomorrow before heading home from work or next week on a lunch break.
"My guess is that, probably, 40 percent of the Republicans and 40 percent of the Democrats have got their minds made up on how they are going to vote any way and not much will change their minds," he said. "But you have a group of voters in the middle that both parties are aiming at, and that's where campaigns will suffer the most. They don't have that the opportunity for one last-minute appeal or one last mailing because those voters are strung out over six weeks."
Residents can cast an absentee ballot without giving a reason for the first time after election laws were changed this year. The Rockdale County Board of Elections absentee polling place is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. A special Saturday voting will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 25, and early voting will be extended 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 29 to 31.
The Board of Elections will hold a voter registration drive from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, and again on Saturday, Oct. 4, at the county's voter registration office at 1400 Parker Road, Lobby C. The Saturday registration is in addition to the regular times for in-person voter registration. The last day to register to vote for the General Election is Oct. 6.
Jay Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org