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Early voting bill heads to governor
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Forsyth County News

 

House Bill 92 has just one more hurdle -- the governor's office -- to clear after it passed the state Senate in a 34-20 vote earlier this week.

The bill, authored by state Rep. Mark Hamilton of Cumming, would reduce the number of days to vote in person before an election from 45 to 21.

“I’m very excited that the bill passed the Senate with no changes,” said Hamilton, a Republican who represents District 23. “I remain very confident that the governor will sign this bill.”

In a statement, Secretary of State Brian Kemp praised the bill, which heads to Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk for final approval.

“HB 92 improves early voting by making the voting period consistent throughout the state and reducing costs for county election offices, while protecting the voter’s ability to cast their ballot 45 days prior to Election Day,” Kemp said.

The period for absentee ballots, which include those sent overseas to military personnel would remain at 45 days under Hamilton’s proposal.

The main aspect that would change is the shortened time period for voting in person.

The measure also requires elections offices to allow for early voting from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. the second Saturday prior to an election.

If approved by the governor, the U.S. Department of Justice would still need to review the measure to ensure it complies with federal guidelines.

Hamilton said the 2012 election would be a realistic time frame for the law to take effect, though it could be sooner.

If approved, the measure could save Forsyth County more than $10,000 with the 2012 election, officials have said.

The savings, along with efficiency, were what inspired Hamilton to craft the bill.

It was something, he said, “that’s needed to be addressed for the last several years, still allowing a very efficient way for voters to cast their votes, while in many and if not all cases offering a savings to the local communities that hold those votes.”