JONESBORO, Ga. — A special election has been underway to elect Jonesboro’s next mayor and two council positions. Early voting began last week, but some residents raised concerns about the cost and allegations of voter suppression.
”I’m trying to do the right thing about voting,” said longtime Jonesboro resident Annette Talmadge, who said she hasn’t missed an election in almost 30 years.
But, when she decided to early vote this week for Clayton County’s next sheriff, she discovered the ballot did not include Jonesboro's elected officials races.
“I think the moves the voting place because of race, you know how we vote and who we vote for,” added Talmadge.
In January, Jonesboro’s city council voted to run its special election separate from the county election. Election Day for both are this coming Tuesday, but in separate polling locations.
“We’re paying almost 10 times as much to run our own elections where if we had the county running we would’ve saved tremendously,” said former city councilmember and mayor candidate Donya Sartor.
It would have cost the city $1,400 to have the county run the election, but now it’s projected to costs the city more than $18,000, according to city records.
And Sartor said no explanation has been given for the move.
“I feel like citizens deserve a reason why and my fellow councilmembers did not provide that. The only thing I’ve heard since is we have always done it this way,” added Sartor.
But former city councilmember and mayoral candidate Patricia Sebo-Hand disputes voter suppression claims.
“It affects all races within the city and I’ve not had anyone say to me personally that they felt that they’re being oppressed or there is voter suppression,” said Sebo-Hand, who also said the move was done because of county delays.
“It took several weeks to even get feed back from the county as to what the cost would be and we were running out of time,” Sebo-Hand continued.
Still, those like Talmadge said voting in two places is a huge inconvenience, especially because she no longer drives.
“Some people are not gonna go, not a second time and vote, because that’s just how it is. But I’m going to vote until I can’t vote no more” added Talmadge.
It’s important to note, Jonesboro officials said they began requesting the quote for the county to run the election in November and were given a $24,000. However, once the county learned it need it run its own election for the sheriff's race, the price dropped to $1,400. The city said they have also ran their elections separately for the past eight years.