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Election results needed sooner
Courier editorial
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Tuesday, July 20, was election day and according to Liberty County Supervisor of Elections Ella Golden, everything went smoothly. Liberty County voters were able move efficiently through the voting process and choose the candidates of their choice. However, when it came to actually reporting the results from each precinct, “smooth” isn’t the first word that comes to mind.
The Coastal Courier extended its press deadline one hour Tuesday evening in hopes of including at least the early precinct numbers in Wednesday’s paper. However, an hour and a half after polls closed, Liberty County had 0 percent of precincts reporting, which is why the Wednesday newspaper contained little election news.
There were no technical difficulties, malfunctioning ballot machines or voter error problems. In fact, Golden said she was very happy with the proceedings. “We did everything on time and according to the secretary of state’s office,” she said.
That may be, but it’s hard to ignore the numbers — or absence thereof — when comparing Liberty’s transmission time with that of neighboring Bryan County.
Secretary of State Brian P. Kemp’s website,, lists and constantly updates county-by-county election results as precincts report them. At 8:30 on election night, the website showed Bryan County had nearly 65 percent of precincts reporting. And there were four contested, local races in Bryan County — one for the board of education and three for county commission. Liberty County had no local races, meaning Bryan’s voter turnout likely was higher than Liberty’s. According to the local voter registration office’s jurisdictional summary report, Liberty County’s voter turnout was between 11 and 12 percent.
Whether precincts were slow to report numbers may simply be a matter of opinion. But, if there is a way to speed up the vote transmission and reporting process, elections officials should consider their options — before the Nov. 2 election. The races that will be decided in November are important to Liberty County residents and turnout likely will be higher. Voters will choose a new sheriff and Georgia’s next governor. Residents care about the outcome of these races, as they should, and deserve to know the results as soon as possible. Nearly two hours after the polls close is not as soon as possible.
The elections office and poll workers should be in constant communication. If an issue crops up that prevents precincts from reporting results in a timely manner, the press should be alerted. If it’s not possible to publish election results, voters have the right to know why that is.

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