Elections two weeks away; some still campaigning for Saturday voting

Dr. Constance Burkes among other citizens spoke at Wednesday's Board of Elections meeting about Saturday voting

Election Day is just two weeks away.

The Dougherty County Board of Elections is trying to do is get all of our precincts ready to open up, and they're preparing for a big turnout. Early voting has already surpassed early voting for primaries. More than 2,500 people have voted.

While officials are setting the table for Nov. 2, others say there's still some ironing out to do.

Saturday voting was turned down last month because board members say there are already plenty of options available such as absentee voting ballots and 45 days of early voting. They also say, right now, it's not worth the $1,200 it would cost per Saturday to open polls.

But some citizens decided to try for it again at Wednesday's Board of Elections meeting.

"Why cannot Dougherty County go back and even use volunteers who are trained and certified to do it? Become a model county to show other people here that we're going to be very creative," says Dr. Constance Burkes, Chair of the Dougherty County Democrat Party.

Early voting is currently Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m until 5 p.m. Some at the meeting say there should be extended hours or Saturday voting.

"Most of the people I pastor are low-income or middle-income and normally they're working during those hours," says Pastor Rance Pettibone, who spoke at the Board of Elections meeting.

Many board members say while it isn't timely or costly feasible this year, they will consider early voting for next year and spoke with those concerned after the meeting.

"I made a pledge that this board will in the 2011 year, look into making certain that we think outside of the box and we consider all the options that might be available, says Board of Elections Chairman Alan Pendleton.

He says he wants to emphasize that "it is not our intent to deny anybody or disenfranchise anybody."

"This board has always had as its primary objection to make certain that every citizen of Dougherty County has the opportunity to vote," Pendleton says.

After speaking with board members when the meeting ended, many citizens say they appreciate board members putting forth an effort.

"I think the board is going to really consider it. They want to work at it. My hope is that they get out and talk to the community," says Pettibone.

Others say they're also excited about the board's efforts but will continue making phone calls.

"They said they will consider it. They didn't say we're going to make sure this is a part of our program. They said we will consider it," says Burkes.

Community members have suggested the campaign for Saturday voting is an effort to attain more votes for lagging democratic candidates.

"I had not talked to any democratic candidates prior to my coming in here. My issue is that I want to make sure when we address to get out to vote that people in Dougherty County have every option out there," says Burkes.

Board members say they don't want to cause fights with those wanting Saturday voting; they say they want to sit down and discuss issues with them.