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Georgia article

Atlanta Journal-Constitution
GWINNETT WEDNESDAY  February 19, 2003

Two-line balloting system will persist
Doug Nurse - Staff
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Voters wanting to cast ballots in city and statewide races should continue to take patience along with their convictions to the voting booth.

Elections officials on Tuesday told county commissioners that voters still will have to stand in two lines. One line will be to cast ballots for national, state and local elections. The other line --- usually somewhere else, like City Hall --- is to vote in municipal elections.

The two-location system leads to low turnout for city elections because many people want to vote only one time and choose the more visible races, said Gwinnett Supervisor of Elections Lynn Ledford.

Some cities had asked the county to investigate whether the county could take over those duties.

The problem is one of money and logistics, Ledford said.

Many precincts don't share the same congressional, state Senate, House, County Commission or school board districts. Each variation means a separate ballot has to be printed to fit the unique combination of legislative and local districts.

Currently, the county prints about 120 types of ballots. If the county elections office were to include the cities and use each as its own precinct, the county could have up to 234 kinds of ballots to keep track of. Plus, 31 precincts would be split by the various, meandering districts.

Ledford estimated incorporating the cities' systems into the county balloting system could cost up to $156,000.

She said the county could count the cities' ballots if they wanted to buy voting machines that can interact with the county's system. However, under that scenario, the cities would have to buy their own ballots and equipment.

Lawrenceville City Clerk Bob Baroni said he was hopeful he still could work out an arrangement with the county to help with city elections.

"We still have to buy ballots, and we'll have to upgrade our equipment anyway," he said. "Maybe we can buy old equipment that will work with what they have. From a staff standpoint, it would make things easier."

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