MARIETTA, Ga. — Cobb County election officials said they may shuffle their early voting sites in the next few days following criticism from voting rights groups. The county announced it would open fewer than half of its early voting sites for the US Senate runoff starting next week.
"Due to COVID, the long work hours and the holidays, we have fewer people who are willing to manage a location," Cobb election director Janine Eveler told 11Alive News on Tuesday. "So we are having to consolidate into only five locations."
The five early voting sites are scattered around Cobb County. For the Nov. 3 election, Cobb opened 11 early voting sites.
Critics point to census data showing African-American communities dominating much of Cobb County south of Marietta -- which is where three of four voting sites that had been open will not re-open.
"This is a civil rights issue," said Michael Pernick of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. "It’s also a safety issue."
The NAACP is among a list of folks complaining to Cobb County officials about how it determined which sites were chosen to open early for the Jan. 5 runoff.
"The approach that they’ve taken really harms Black and Latinx communities. It’s also not clear what makes Cobb different," Pernick said. "None of the other metro counties are facing these issues."
Fulton, Gwinnett, and DeKalb counties have reported that they plan to open the same number or more early voting sites for the runoff.
But like Cobb -- Hall and Forsyth counties have also said they are reducing their early voting sites by half.
Eveler says she hopes to relocate one of the county’s early voting sites to better accommodate voters in south Cobb County.
"But we’re trying to figure out if we can get those buildings," she said.
Eveler says Cobb does separate training for election day managers and advance voting managers. She says Cobb will have to re-evaluate its training regimen – after the January runoff is over.