Hundreds of Paulding residents have been no strangers to the county’s elections office in recent days based on initial early voting numbers and last-minute voter registration.
Deidre Holden, supervisor of the Paulding County Elections office, spoke to community members at Tuesday’s Cobb EMC Power Breakfast held at the Paulding County Chamber of Commerce. Holden shared with those in attendance current and historical voting numbers, with one of the most recent statistics being the number of county voters who cast ballots Monday on the first day of early voting—1,163.
“That is a record for our first day of early voting. [And] this is our first presidential election in our new office [in the Watson Government Complex],” Holden said. “I got there about 6 a.m. yesterday morning. People began lining up at 7:15; we opened at 8. So I knew that it was going to be nonstop, which it was.”
Holden compared Paulding’s Monday turnout to the number of voters she said neighboring Cobb County saw that day—1,371. But while the number of voters was higher in Cobb, initial voter turnout was in Paulding due to the two counties’ registered voter count—Paulding’s is approaching 86,000 while Cobb has nearly half a million registered, she said.
Paulding also had a significantly shorter wait time on the first day compared to Cobb, Holden said, despite Cobb having six computers up and running compared to Paulding’s four.
“There was never a wait in Paulding County over 45 minutes, and that was only because we looked at the line and did an hourly count to make sure we were balanced. Cobb County had a wait of two and a half hours,” she said
Holden: Voter registration shows county growth
The county’s registered voter count on Monday stood at 85,929 voters, Holden said. That number is expected to grow by about 500 as elections officers continue to add to the rolls in the wake of the Oct. 9 voter registration deadline.
Monday’s count is up significantly from the numbers seen during the previous two presidential elections. Holden said that as October began in 2008, Paulding had 70,254 registered voters; four years prior, the count was 50,687.
Holden attributed the significant increases to the efforts of Paulding’s “wonderful” county government and chamber of commerce.
“I know Paulding County is doing something right, because there is a desire for people all over the state of Georgia to move here, and we are seeing it,” she said. “We’re seeing people move here from Chatham County, Fulton County, DeKalb County, Clayton County, Muscogee County. And also the people that give us the information are moving here from all over the United States. That makes me very proud.”
Many ways to vote
Paulding voters can request paper absentee ballots by Nov. 2; the application to obtain such a ballot can be picked up at the elections office or found online at paulding.gov.
“Paper ballots are a great option for you if you don’t want to stand in line or you’re not going to be here on election day, or if you’re undecided, and you can vote in the comfort of your home—you just have to send us an application,” Holden said. “You don’t have to have a reason to vote absentee—you can just say, ‘I want to vote absentee.’”
Holden said her office as of Monday had sent out about 2,300 paper absentee ballots—700 or so have been returned so far. About 4,500 were turned in during the last presidential election in 2008, she said.
Early voting is currently being held in the Paulding County Elections office in the Watson Government Complex in Dallas. The office will be open for voters from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each weekday until Nov. 2.
The elections office also will be the site of Saturday voting on Oct. 27, with the office open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Advance voting will open up at three satellite offices the week of Oct. 29—Poplar Springs Baptist Church, 2056 Hiram Douglasville Highway, Hiram; Mount Tabor Park, 1550 East Paulding Drive, Dallas; and the Crossroads Library, 909 Harmony Grove Church Road, Acworth. Voting hours at the three locations will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
Voters who do not take advantage of early or advance voting will have one last chance to cast in-person ballots on Nov. 6, the actual day of the election. Those voters will report to their normal polling places.
Holden encouraged those in attendance to not only vote, but to vote prior to election day if possible.
“We want to see everybody come out early, because if you have a problem early, we can catch it on the front end and correct it as to you waiting on election day when there’s really nothing we can do about it,” she said.
Echoing Holden’s call for residents to vote was Paulding County Commission Chairman David Austin, who was in attendance at Tuesday’s breakfast. Austin said voting was key to putting the county in the minds of those in power in government.
“We’re the 14th-most populated county in the United States. So presidents pay attention to us, governors start paying attention to us, our congressmen and senators pay attention to us—they want to be at events in Paulding,” Austin said.
“If you want the higher powers to look at Paulding and pay attention, then encourage your neighbors, friends and relatives to vote, because it makes a huge, huge difference.”
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