Originally created 10/11/05

Poll staff keep eyes on ID suit

Augusta officials will be closely watching a federal court case that begins Wednesday in Rome, Ga., challenging the state's voter identification law.

At a meeting Monday night of the Augusta-Richmond County Board of Elections, Executive Director Lynn Bailey said the court challenge to the photo ID law could prove problematic for poll worker training, which is set to begin next week.

The court could enjoin or temporarily suspend that part of the law for the Nov. 8 election, in which case the workers would have to go back to the way things used to be run, Ms. Bailey said. It also was not clear when a decision would be made, she said.

"As you can imagine, switching in midstream again, particularly in a jurisdiction like Richmond County that has already been through an election using photo ID, it will be a challenge to implement it," Ms. Bailey said. "But we won't be Chicken Little. We'll just play the cards as they're dealt."

In fact, Ms. Bailey said, the state asked her for a declaration about how the law affected the Sept. 20 special election to fill the Georgia Senate District 22 seat, one of the first to be held under the new law.

"It seemed to be implemented without a whole lot of problems and confusion," Ms. Bailey said.

More than 12,000 people voted in that election and 13 cast provisional ballots because they didn't have proper photo ID at the time; only two returned within the required time period with the proper ID, Ms. Bailey said.

"We had very few phone calls on Election Day from citizens or voters who were having problems at the polls," she said.

The board also voted to have satellite sites for advanced voting Oct. 31 through Nov. 4 at Henry H. Brigham and Warrren Road community centers, pending the approval of $12,000 from the Augusta Commission.

The board also debated whether to re-post financial disclosure reports on its Web site from three Augusta mayoral candidates. The reports, which were filed prematurely, are not due until later because it is a special election and the elections office should not have accepted and posted them.

"This board should err on the side of disclosure," member Timothy Moses argued, but the board voted down his motion.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.

How to register

The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 8 election is today. You can register from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Augusta-Richmond County Board of Elections, 530 Greene St., Room 104. Registrations are also valid if they are postmarked today. You can download a form from Augusta's Web site at www.augustaga.gov.


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