What can be done to up voter turnout?

May 21, 2014 

The first part of a potentially four-part process is over. While we can breathe a sigh of relief, our respite will be short. With a runoff scheduled July 22, the candidates will hit us hard and heavy as they vie for the open U.S. Senate seat.

There were a few surprises, while turnout was low, early voting bested 2010 statistics. According to the secretary of state, 239,281 early voting ballots were cast, 26,794 more than were cast during the early voting period in 2010. As expected, there were more Republican ballots cast than Democratic by almost 60,000 ballots.

Will Georgia follow the lead of Oregon, the first state in the Union to hold statewide elections totally by mail? Oregon started its test of vote by mail in 1987. In its May 2010 primary election, 41.6 percent of the state’s registered voters cast ballots and in the November general election, 71.9 percent cast ballots. In the November 2012 presidential election, 82.8 percent of the state’s voters cast ballots.

Georgia lawmakers, instead of playing with voting dates, should look at ways to increase voter participation. Maybe voting by mail or some other method would be the way to go. The technology exists that would allow us to vote on many of our devices -- from our phones to tablets to desktop computers. Is Georgia ready for that? While most people bank electronically there are still skeptics. And with hackers stealing information at a record pace, the ballot box would be a sweet target.

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