DeKalb clarifies voting hours after mayoral candidate warns of voter confusion

Atlanta mayoral candidate Cathy Woolard. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

DeKalb County clarified its voting hours on Wednesday after an Atlanta mayoral candidate and the ACLU warned that voter confusion could reign because city residents who live within DeKalb County’s boundaries may have different hours of voting than Atlanta residents in Fulton County.

The city of Atlanta states that polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., but the secretary of state’s office lists the hours as 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. DeKalb County didn’t list Election Day voting hours on its website, but a county official said polls would be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The county released updated voting hours shortly after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a story about potential voter confusion. DeKalb elections director Erica Hamilton said the hours for the city of Atlanta precincts in the county were long set at 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., but she declined comment on why they weren’t posted.

Former City Council President Cathy Woolard earlier said she was troubled that it wasn’t “crystal clear to voters” when they could vote.

“There’s absolutely no excuse for inaccurate or inconsistent information coming out from official sources,” said Woolard, a mayoral candidate hose strongest base of supporters is in east Atlanta.

Fulton County officials announced in September that voters would get an additional hour to comply with a state law requiring a city with more than 300,000 people — like Atlanta — to keep their polls open until 8 p.m.

The Georgia chapter of the ACLU also penned a letter raising an alarm about the apparent voting discrepancies, saying that closing the polls before 8 p.m. would be “illegal.” It also notes that Fulton County’s early voting include Sunday hours while DeKalb did not.

“We strongly urge DeKalb County to follow Fulton County’s lead in this regard to ensure that all Atlanta citizens are treated equally,” wrote Sean Young, the ACLU of Georgia’s legal director. Read the letter here.

Insider’s note: This item was ripped and expanded from the Daily Jolt

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