Letter to the Editor: A response to concerns about expanding early voting hours

Hunaid Qadir responds to Mary Songster’s concerns about expanding early voting hours in this open letter. Qadir is a member of the ACC Board of Elections, but he is only speaking for himself here. -APN

Dear Ms. Songster,

First and foremost, may I express my deep gratitude for the years you have spent working at the polls without regards to any political leanings. Right now, I would be hard pressed to find even a handful of such folks — that puts you and your fellow poll workers in a most respected group. Out of over a hundred public comments, this is the second one that I have replied to as you have brought up points that are well taken, and I can only empathize as to how you feel.

The Board is extremely sensitive to the logistical issues that confront staff. It is for that reason we expanded early voting hours only at the Board of Elections office where the staff felt that we could absorb the traffic. The two other added days are just at two additional locations. They will be extremely long days for each of you – it is easy for me to say this because unless I have worked three 14-hour days back-to-back as a poll worker, I would not know. For future elections, we shall try and bring in additional staff to give each poll worker a brief break.

We are going to keep a close eye on the numbers that we get for those extended hours at the additional locations.

I hope that none of us Board members leaned either way to support special interests like we may have for our Sept 20th vote. UGA is the largest employer in ACC and many of those voters were not getting an opportunity to vote early as they left work after 5 PM and we felt that this would give them an opportunity to avoid long lines on Election Day. Almost every county in the state is receiving a much higher early voting turnout and we are wondering why that is not the case with ACC!

Regardless, if the logistics were an issue, they would have been an issue in the past. In the future, we shall endeavor to be more proactive. I would like you to know that the Board of Elections staff have nothing but your interests in mind at every juncture of the process. This is the best performing office in the State and that would not be the case without the dedication that you and your fellow workers bring. The Board did not look out for you this time, but you can count on my absolute support in the future.

I would be amiss if I did not thank you for your support on the Tree Council. Your public service is an indication of your love and dedication to our community which we all love. Please do not let one action of ours demoralize you in any way – that would be a poor reflection on us.

Please continue to reach out to the staff if you can come up with ways to improve the logistics.

With respect and deep gratitude,

Hunaid Qadir
Board Member, Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections

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