Chatham Co. election officials see ‘unprecedented’ turnout on last day of early voting

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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WSAV) – On Georgia’s last day of early voting, election officials say Chatham County citizens seized the moment.

The county set up six early voting locations — five of them closed at 4 p.m. and the Board of Elections location was open until 6 p.m.

Officials are calling the turnout “unprecedented,” and they’re expecting nearly half of Chatham County voters, 95,000, to cast their ballots by the time polls close Friday.

“It only took one hour of my life and I think it’s a really important hour,” said Maureen Patrick, a Savannah voter.

It seems Patrick isn’t alone. WSAV News 3 visited two other locations and citizens were turning out to the polls in droves.

“My decision to vote early has to do with the virus in that I really believe in keeping essential workers safe,” said Patrick. “So for me, that includes poll workers.”

Regardless of their reasoning, officials say they are grateful to see so many people voting early. They say it will take the pressure off poll workers on Election Day.

“I’m excited the fact that to have a good turnout there and yet it won’t be so overwhelming because so many people have actually voted early,” said John Leffler.

Leffler is the election operations manager and he says there have been minor hiccups, but employees are working hard to make the experience enjoyable.

At the Board of Elections, voters got coffee and water and Savannah’s Civic Center even had a DJ on deck.

“A lot of people came and say ‘Hey, thank you so much, you made my day’ and I love that because it’s a long wait here,” said DJ Precisa, of Savannah.

Leffler says they are working harder than ever to accommodate voters.

“I’ve never seen this happen before and we are adjusting to what our voters and constituents want,” said Leffler.

“It’s a matter of they need these creature comforts they need to have some of these same things provided at all the early voting sites,” he added. “It is something we are looking into for the future.”

There are nearly 200,000 voters in Chatham County and 92 polling locations. Officials expect roughly 60,000 to cast their ballots on Election Day.

Leffler says they are expecting protests on Nov. 3, and poll workers are trained to know what to do.

“Voter intimidation will not be tolerated,” Leffler added.

He says law enforcement are aware and on standby if needed.

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