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Non-voters running out of excuses

Posted: February 22, 2012 - 1:03am  |  Updated: February 22, 2012 - 3:40am

One of the common excuses used by non-voters is that it isn’t convenient. Elections are held on Tuesdays, and work schedules get in the way.

The ability to vote by absentee long ago debunked that rationale. In addition, the state of Georgia in recent years further undermined that excuse by instituting early and advance voting days that stretched elections out for nearly a month before each election.

In fact, so many days were added that many smaller communities complained that it spread their scarce resources too thin. The law required them to keep voting machines open every weekday, despite the thin trickle of voters using them.

Lawmakers responded in 2011 with a clever twist: They reduced the number of weeks for early voting, but added the requirement that all communities make elections available on one Saturday.

With the March 6 “Super Tuesday” Presidential Preference Primary coming up, that Saturday is this week. In Columbia County, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., voters who registered before Feb. 6 can go to the Board of Elections office at 500 Faircloth Drive – Building E of the county’s government center in Evans – and cast a ballot in the presidential primary.

There are two ballots available: A Democratic ballot with a single name, President Obama; and a Republican ballot, with nine names. Three of the candidates on the Republican side have dropped out of the race, but their names still appear on the ballot.

This first-ever Saturday ballot will be a useful experiment to see if non-voters finally can be lured away from whatever keeps them from performing their civic duty. The list of excuses has gotten pretty thin.

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