Changes ahead for Decatur County voters

Published: Oct. 19, 2018 at 6:00 PM EDT
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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News

October 19, 2018

DECATUR COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- As the Bainbridge community continues to make strides in hurricane recovery, many voters are still making it a priority to hit the polls.

Early voting began Monday for Georgia voters. In Decatur County, there is one early voting location now open. Officials said voter turnout is actually higher than normal, but not without some changes and challenges.

Parts of Decatur County were left devastated by Hurricane Michael. As the clean up continues, some voters said, that doesn't stop them from exercising, and appreciating their right to vote.

"There are a lot of issues, there are so many political, social issues that are out there right now," said voter Stephen Thomas. "I just want to make sure that we keep moving in a certain direction in this country, and my vote is kind of my way of hoping to accomplish that."

Decatur County normally opens two early voting locations, one as the elections office and one at the Decatur County Fairgrounds. The fairgrounds is currently serving as an evacuation shelter, leaving the elections office the only polling place. Despite that, election officials said voter turnout is up, and absentee voting is higher than ever.

"Storms come and go, but this is our home," said voter Shirley Florence. "I think we just need to clean it up and keep on moving, pick up the pieces and move on."

With the first week of early voting complete, more changes in Decatur County are still to come. For some precincts, polling locations will be moving due to damage to the building, or because a lack of power.

"Stay tuned because we may be changing the location, and the last thing we want is for voters to be frustrated, or feel like they can't go to their precinct, of have questions about their precinct... or feeling like they weren't given a good opportunity to vote," said Carol Heard, Decatur County Chief Elections Officer.

Through the community's recovery, county officials are hoping the voters don't slow down.

"It's been a busy election. I hope it stays that way, my concern is that people have other things they're thinking about obviously now, but this election is important, like every election," Heard said.

The county said the Climax, Coliseum, Kendrick and Recovery locations are subject to change. Officials are waiting on word from the Secretary of State for those to be determined. Once established, information will be posted online, and updated through social media.

Early voting will be open through November 5. Election day will be on November 6.