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Lawmaker honored by state association
State Rep. Mark Hamilton, holding painting, was recognized Thursday by ACCG. Joining him here are Forsyth County Commissioners, from left, Brian Tam, Pete Amos, Jim Boff, Todd Levent and Patrick Bell and Mark Hicks of ACCG. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

District 23 state Rep. Mark Hamilton was recognized by the Association County Commissioners of Georgia with a 2011 Legislative Service award.

Hamilton received the honor for his sponsorship of House Bill 92, which shortens Georgia’s early voting period from 45 to 21 days. The national average is 24.

The U.S. Justice Department recently approved the changes, which had earlier received bipartisan support in the state legislature.

Hamilton, a Republican from Cumming, accepted the award from association official Matthew Hicks during the Forsyth County commission’s meeting Thursday.

"Each year, the [association] recognizes legislators that have gone above and beyond to respond to the needs of county government and county taxpayers," Hicks said.

"Prior to this bill, Georgia had the longest early voting period in the nation," he said. "… By keeping the polls open for so long, counties were reporting significant costs."

The new law also mandates that polls be open on the second Saturday prior to an election, offering voters who work during the week an opportunity to vote ahead of time.