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Advance voting may expand in Forsyth due to popularity

CUMMING — Advance voting made a big splash during the 2014 election cycle, and the program likely will expand in 2016.

During a meeting Monday, the Forsyth County Board of Voter Registrations and Elections reviewed the figures for the Nov. 4 election, which showed about 40 percent of local voters cast their ballots prior to election day.

Last fall, advance voting lasted three weeks. During the first two, voting was held only at the County Administration Building in downtown Cumming. The hours were 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on a single Saturday.

During the third week, voters had their pick of five locations across the county, all of which were open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. The later hours were put in place to help accommodate residents who work outside Forsyth.

“Usually our office is the only one open for the first two weeks, and then we open the other four sites for that Saturday and that last week,” said Barbara Luth, elections supervisor. “For these big elections in 2016, we hope to have them [all] open for the total three weeks.”

Among other contests, 2016 will feature a race for U.S. president without an incumbent. According to Luth, voting could be held at all five locations for the entire advance period.

“What we’re looking at is we’re going to expand our existing locations for the March primaries, the general primaries and the General Election, so that they’re open for all three weeks, including that Saturday,” she said.

In addition, the board also discussed potentially adding two more locations to the advance voting roster, for a total of seven, in 2016.

“Those would be the [Lanier Technical College] Forsyth Conference Center and Central Park,” Luth said.

Like the extended hours in 2014, the locations of the two potential polling stations were chosen because they are both near Ga. 400, and would help accommodate voters who commute.

During the meeting, the board also released advance voting numbers for 2014, showing that 21,539 residents cast their ballots ahead of time. Luth said that voting went well, but she hoped for higher turnout.

“We would like to see it 80 percent all the time, but I’m happy with the voters that did come out. And we didn’t have any lines, but I’ll take lines if we can get more voters.”