The Bibb County elections office will be a stone’s throw away from a Friday morning rally featuring Stacey Abrams and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, something that has elections staff on high alert.
Having the event so close to the office means Bibb County elections workers will be keeping a close eye to make sure state laws are followed, elections officials say.
Abrams’ event comes on the final day of an early voting period that’s had a large number of people in Macon vote on a ballot headlined by the gubernatorial race between the former minority speaker of the state House of Representatives and Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
The rally is being held in the same shopping center where the Bibb elections office building is being leased by the county. State law prohibits the partisan political event from coming within 150 feet of the elections office.
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Signs are posted to let people know the distance requirements, Bibb elections supervisor Jeanetta Watson said at Thursday’s elections board meeting.
“We’ve made those as clearly marked and prominent as possible,” she said. “I already have notices out for the staff... to tighten it up because a candidate generally is not that close to our building. That may generate chatter and things like that.”
The county has no control over the privately-owned Westgate Shopping Center outside of the portion being leased for the elections office, elections board attorney William Noland said.
Both candidates have had or will have big-name supporters coming into the state on their behalf as the campaign winds down. The Republican Kemp was joined by Vice President Mike Pence at various stops on Thursday while Oprah Winfrey stumped for Abrams in Atlanta on the same day.
Also, President Donald Trump will come to Macon on Sunday to try to provide another boost for Kemp’s bid. On Friday, former President Barack Obama will be with Abrams in Atlanta.
But in Macon on Friday, Watson said her goal is to be prepared for a unique situation and some of the concern some people may express about it.
“We just don’t want people to get upset from either party or from either campaign or from either candidate that it comes across that we are participating because that particular candidate has a rally this close to the office on the last day of early voting,” she said. “That was my greatest concern.”