DeKalb sees increase in early voting


Margie Multon (right), Dekalb election judge of ten years, assists senior family and child studies major Jesmine Goins in the voting process for last year’s presidential election. The voting took place at the St. Paul’s Episcopal church on Normal Road on November 6, 2012.

By Erin Kolb

The number of early voters in DeKalb County is rising every year.

John Acardo, DeKalb County clerk and recorder, said early voting, which is open for 40 days before Election Day, is beneficial to everyone involved.

Acardo said there are many places to register, including the library, the DMV and the County Clerk’s office. If the registration deadline is missed, voters can register during a grace voting period. During that period, they cast their ballot the same day as registration.

“It’s a very convenient process with everyone becoming more and more busy,” he said. “It’s something that allows the opportunity to conveniently cast your vote before election day so it’s not something you’re rushed to do or forget to do on election day.”

Junior mechanical engineering major Joshua Ott is a registered voter in DeKalb County.

“I’m probably not going to vote,” he said. “But I do see the benefits of early voting rather than having just one day and time to vote.”

Adam Bennett, junior mechanical engineering major, also sees the benefits of early voting.

“I’m not going to vote because I’m not from DeKalb and the policies don’t affect me that much,” he said. “I think early voting is a good thing, though, because it allows the voter to get it out of the way instead of procrastinating until Election Day.”

Acardo said he thinks early voting encourages activism and participation in voting and affects candidates as well.

“If you look at the last election, 22 percent of people came out to vote prior to Election Day,” he said. “It has a huge impact because now candidates have to get their information out well in advance of early voting so that people who do vote early get their message and have an opportunity to hear what the candidate has to say.”

Acardo said the average number of voters has remained fairly consistent in the past few years, and that number depends on the type of election taking place.

“It ebbs and flows with the season,” he said. “The presidential elections bring out significantly more people to vote, but early voting is exponentially growing looking at the cycle.”

Acardo said that DeKalb County started early voting in 2006. That year, 1,400 people voted early in the midterm election. In the next midterm election, in 2010, 3,500 people voted early. Acardo believes it is important to vote in all elections, especially local ones.

“I’d love to see 100 percent voter turnout,” he said. “I think specifically with these smaller races, people tend to not pay attention to them and not participate in voting. In my opinion, these are the most important races because the leaders you’re electing, specifically this April, are the ones who set policy of the day-to-day lives we lead. They’re the ones who set our sales tax figures and policies that directly affect our everyday life.”

Residents of DeKalb County have until March 12 to register to vote.