Chatham County polls open for runoff election

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Chatham County’s polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday. Voters can turn in their absentee ballot at the Board of Elections at 1117 Eisenhower Drive until 7 p.m.

Poll workers worked hard Monday to prepare for Tuesday’s Democratic primary runoff election. Officials have made several changes to avoid confusion and technical difficulties that caused long lines in June.

For starters, they have streamlined the drive-thru, pick-up process.

On Monday, poll workers came early to pick-up essential personal protective equipment and poll pads. Much of the heavier equipment had already been dropped off at each precinct.

In June, a similar pick-up process was delayed when it took days — instead of hours — to prepare new poll pads for poll managers.

“That’s because you’re putting a lot of data through one narrow entry point,” explained Chatham County Board of Elections Chairman Tom Mahoney. “It took that much longer than usual…and those poll workers, poll managers couldn’t pick up their equipment as early as they typically do.”

In June, Mahoney says many poll workers did not understand how to operate new voting machines because many did not complete hands-on training. Others, who were trained in March, forgot their training during the June election because it had been postponed for several months.

Most poll managers and assistant poll managers volunteered to re-train for Tuesday’s election. Mahoney says they were able to complete hands-on training, while also social distancing.

“It’s not required, but we did it and we did it because I think it’s obvious that we needed to do it,” said Mahoney.

Dominion, the company that manufactures the new voting machines, will have 60 technicians in the county to help with any issues. In June, there were none.

The Board of Elections will have 12 technicians. In June, they had 14.

Board Member Antwan Lang says there will also be additional signage at certain precincts to explain location changes to voters.

“One of the things we didn’t have when polls changed last election — there were no signs at the polls that changed. This time, there will be signs and people will know,” said Lang.

Absentee clerks have been processing absentee ballot since last week. Mahoney says there may be a long way to go until election results are completely tabulated.

“If it’s like it was in the June election, where more people voted absentee, we may not know what the results are on election night,” said Mahoney.

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