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Justice department OKs election changes
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Forsyth County News

The U.S. Justice Department’s approval of two recent Georgia measures is expected to improve the state’s early voting law and bring it into compliance with the rules of national political parties.

That second item, House Bill 454, means the secretary of state can set Georgia’s presidential primary date between Dec. 1 of the year before and the second Tuesday in June of the presidential election year.

Both bills were introduced in the General Assembly by District 23 State Rep. Mark Hamilton, a Republican from Cumming.

Prior to federal review, they passed the legislature and were signed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

In a statement, Hamilton said he is pleased the justice department approved the bills.

"In an era where momentum plays a vital role in presidential campaigns, HB 454 will allow Georgia to play a more relevant role in our nation’s presidential election process," Hamilton said.

The other measure, House Bill 92, concerns early voting. Hamilton said it should "make the election process easier for voters throughout the state."

It will do so, he said, by "allowing local communities to provide better clarity to Georgia voters, make the election process more efficient for local election offices, offer a Saturday voting option and lower the tax burden to Georgia citizens by eliminating expensive low voter turnout days."

As a result, advance voting in Georgia general elections will begin on the fourth Monday before a primary and general election and as soon as possible before a runoff.

The early voting period, which was previously 45 days, will then run through the Friday before each election.

During that time, early voting locations will be open during normal business hours on weekdays.

If the election includes a federal or state office, locations will also be open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on the second Saturday.

The bill does not affect early voting by mail or absentee voting.