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Fulton County hopes to rise above previous Election Day issues

Are election officials feeling any additional pressure as another big election approaches?

ATLANTA — Voters will start heading to the polls as early as 7 a.m. on Tuesday, as they prepare to cast their vote for Atlanta mayor, and other elections across the state. 

It's a big race for Atlanta Mayor, but, what may be an even bigger relay, will be Fulton County’s rush to get ballots in before the deadline.

The county isn't expecting nearly the amount of voters from the 2020 Presidential election, however, the spotlight will be bright and hot on election officials as voters head to the polls. 

RELATED: How to find your polling location on Election Day

Fulton County’s long dealt with issues around voting, whether it be the long lines, a COVID-19 outbreak among election workers in 2020, to problems with voting machines

Not to mention Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger calling for the firing of Fulton County’s elections director, Rick Barron, and the state performance review sought by Republicans into the county’s elections management.

With all of the above, are Barron and Commission Chairman Robb Pitts feeling any additional pressure as another big election approaches?

“I feel really good,” Pitts said on Monday. “Our poll workers are well trained. Equipment is being delivered to polling locations. We’ll have a technician at almost every polling location in case there’s an issue. I think we’re well prepared.”

Pitts added anything is possible and there could be human errors at the last minute.

“There’s no such thing as a perfect election. Anything can go wrong. The advantage we have is that we are well trained and in the event that something happens, we can respond immediately,” he said. 

Pitts explained they’ve held mock elections to prepare and all seemingly went well. And with all eyes on Fulton County for Tuesday, Barron believes they’ll be successful.

“We have 9.84 percent turnout through early voting. We expect to get at least that many voters tomorrow. Once people are out there, we hope their experience is good. We’ve made sure we have all the poll managers trained and ready to go,” Barron said. 

RELATED: Your 2021 City of Atlanta election guide | Everything to know

With one review underway, huge mistakes could add to the investigation, and the call for a state takeover of Fulton County’s election management under Georgia’s new voting law, SB 202. Pitts said the threat of a takeover is not impacting how they will operate.

“We knew from the beginning that SB 202 was designed to cause problems throughout the state, specifically Fulton County. It restricted the number of drop boxes we could deploy. Last election we had 38, this time we’re limited to 8,” Pitts said. “Then, of course, there’s the reporting restrictions which severely limits us. We have to let them know by 10 p.m. on election nights how many votes were cast. The problem with that is Atlanta’s precinct is the largest in the county. They stay open until 8 o’clock. Everyone else closes at 7. They did not make allowances for that difference in time. That’s sort of a handicap for us.”

Barron added, “The law allowing Atlanta to stay open until 8 for general elections has been on the books for decades.”

Atlanta counts for half of Fulton County’s precincts, which leaves a two-hour turnaround time when polls close in the city. Still, Pitts believes they will meet the deadline.

“We know what the rules are and we will comply,” he said. 

Pitts and Barron added they do not have a shortage of poll workers, had poll workers come in before early voting states to prepare them for different roles, and have trained to double-check for errors.

“Once people are out there, we hope the experience is good,” Barron said. 

Polling locations will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

Before showing up to the polls, you must have a valid and acceptable form of identification with you to vote in the State of Georgia. Here's a list of forms of identification that are permitted:

  • Any valid state or federal government-issued photo ID, including a free ID Card issued by your county registrar's office or the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS)
  • A Georgia Driver's License, even if expired
  • Valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. Government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of this state
  • Valid U.S. passport ID
  • Valid U.S. military photo ID
  • Valid tribal photo ID

For more what to know about election day, click here.

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