That’s the word from DeKalb Election Supervisor Maxine Daniels.
“People always wait for the last minute,” she said Thursday, “but we know they are coming and we are ready for them.”
To vote early and on Election Day, voters must have one of six acceptable forms of identification – a Georgia driver’s license, which can be expired; state or federal photo ID; a valid U.S. passport; governmental employee ID; U.S. military photo ID; or tribal photo ID.
Daniels said voters must not wear campaign T-shirts, caps, bags and the like for or against candidates, political parties or amendments to the polls.
“If they make it into the polls, they will be turned away and asked to remove it,” she said.
For the first 10 days of early voting, 60,859 DeKalb voters cast ballots at the three precincts that opened Oct. 15 at the main election office in Decatur, the Community Achievement Center in South DeKalb, and the Tucker Recreation Center in central DeKalb. Statewide, 688,388 voters have voted early. DeKalb is beat only by Fulton County, which had 62,444 early voters.
The number of early voters grew from 5,529 on Oct. 15 to a high of 7,285 on Tuesday. On Wednesday, 6,702 people cast ballots.
With most of the local and state seats decided from the July primary for South DeKalb voters, the re-election of Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, and the controversial Charter School Amendment were the top issues luring them back to the polls.
This week, voting was steady at the Community Achievement Center, which has had the second-highest number of early voters with 11,417 people casting ballots over the first nine days.
It was beat only by the main election office, which had 22,633 voters for the same period.
Richard Fambrough was among the 1,674 people who voted there on Tuesday. He says he has always voted early to avoid long lines and was in and out in five minutes.
Fambrough, who lives in Decatur, said he voted for Obama again because of the strides he has made with the economy.
“When he came into office, the economy was bankrupt,” he said. “He brought the banks back.”
If the president wins a second term, Fambrough, who is 67, said he wants to see him continue to work on jobs and improve education.
Fambrough said he voted no on the Charter School Amendment.
“They will be taking away money from the public schools and giving the state more control,” he said. “That’s not a good thing.”
Tre James, 21, who missed the 2008 presidential election because he wasn’t old enough to vote, said he voted no on the Charter School Amendment but picked Republican Mitt Romney for president.
“I believe his policy helps higher-income Americans, but looking at my future, I think I will be one of those high-income individuals,” he said.
On Amendment 1, he said the local school board should make the decision about charter schools, not the state.
Jomo Malone of Decatur, also a first-time presidential election voter, said he voted for the Charter School Amendment and picked Obama because he is the best man for the job.
“His policies make sense,” he said. “Everything adds up.”
If Obama gets a second term, Malone said he wants him to continue to level the playing field.
“He is not just for rich people,” he said. “He is for everyone.”
Starting Oct. 29, when the number of early precincts increases to six, Daniels expects to see 15,000 voters a day.
Even though they have hardly seen any lines the first two weeks, Daniels said she expects lines the final week into the Nov. 6 presidential election.
Oct. 27 is the final Saturday that the polls will be open. Next week, they will be open Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
On Election Day, all 189 county precincts will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
At press time Thursday, the final count for registered voters through the Oct. 9 voter registration deadline was not available.
Through Oct. 1, DeKalb had 470,065 registered voters. Of those, 412,558 were listed as active voters, meaning they have cast ballots in the past two general elections.
Voters who cast ballots in the first nine days encountered no lines, and Daniels said that even at the main election office, which has 80 voting machines, they were in and out in five minutes.
“Next week, it’s going to change,” she said.
Daniels was reluctant to compare this early voting season with the 2008 presidential election when voters had 45 days of advance voting. This year, there are 21 days of early voting.
“This is a completely different animal,” she said. “It would be comparing apples and oranges.”
Over the 45 days of early and absentee voting in 2008, 226,405 DeKalb voters cast ballots, including 150,897 people in the final week.
Because early voting reached 6,000 to 7,000 people daily this week, Daniels says she is expecting to see 150,000 voters next week.
In 2008 when the country elected Obama, voter turnout was projected at 80 percent and came in at 78 percent.
With Obama’s campaign for a second term and the controversial Charter School Amendment, Daniels is projecting a 80 percent turnout this year.
Starting Monday, three more early voting precincts will be added in downtown Decatur, Stone Mountain and Chamblee. Together, they will have 184 polling machines.
For a sample ballot and other information, visit www.dekalbvotes.com or My Voter Page at http://mvp.sos.state.ga.us/ and select DeKalb.
Final week to vote early
Six early voting precincts will open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 29-Nov. 2.
-- Berean Christian Church Community Center, 2440 Young Road in Stone Mountain
-- Clark Harrison Building, 330 W. Ponce de Leon, Room A, in downtown Decatur
-- Community Achievement Center, 4522 Flat Shoals Parkway in Decatur
-- Chamblee Civic Center, 3540 Broad St. in Chamblee
-- DeKalb Voter Registration & Elections Office, 4380 Memorial Drive, Suite 300, in Decatur
-- Tucker Recreation Center, 4898 LaVista Road in Tucker