Board of Elections: Voting law change may cost county, hurt voter turnout

Board of Elections: Voting law change may cost county, hurt voter turnout

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Voters in the CSRA may be heading to the polls for primary elections as early as May next year.

A court order prompted the state to move the federal election primary to May to allow more time for absentee ballots between primary and runoff elections.

Bailey says other than a presidential preference primary, the May primary would be the earliest primary ever for the state.

The state and local primaries will be in July.

Lynn Bailey, the Elections Director for Richmond County, says holding two separate primaries will have consequences for the county and voters.

"I think if we do have two primaries next year, voter turnout will suffer. It's hard to get people out in the summer anyway but to get them out twice, it's kind of tough to do," Bailey, said.

Eighty-three year old Leo Jackson Senior says he's gone to the polls every year since he was 18; and he says he's never heard of a primaries being shifted like this.

"That's ludicrous," he said.

While the change may seem crazy he says he will still vote in both primaries; but he says other voters probably won't.

Bailey is concerned because elections are expensive.

"Just in Richmond County alone it would cost an additional $100,000 to $120,000 to have two primaries like that," she said.

She says the elections are covered by the county's general fund, which means the elections are paid for mainly by taxpayer dollars.

Jackson said, "That to my mind is a waste of taxpayer money."

But it may not get that far, Bailey says there's still a chance the state will try to move the primaries back to the same day.

"I hope and suspect that the state will adjust its calendar back to the dates provided in the federal court order," she said.

The General Assembly will be back in session in January.

Bailey will speak to Commissioners Wednesday about the changes to voting laws and the impact it will have.