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The rule of 250

Editor’s note: Tom Hand is chairman of the Bryan County Board of Elections.

Hello Bryan County, We are now just 40 days away from the midterm elections on Nov. 8, 2022. I thought you might want to know about some recent legislation that our Georgia Legislature passed and Governor Kemp signed to improve the voter experience in the state. 

The number one complaint of voters going to the polls is that the wait time can be too long, and the number one cause of the long delays is waiting for a voting machine to free up so you can vote. To correct this issue, Georgia State Senator Max Burns, along with others, created Senate Bill 202 which was designed to get the optimal number of voting machines in each polling location. This important voter-friendly legislation is commonly known as the Rule of 250 and should greatly improve the voter experience.

The Rule of 250, passed in 2021, provides very helpful guidelines for all counties and precincts to use when preparing for a state-wide general election. Specifically, the bill requires that all counties in the state set up one voting machine for every 250 registered voters in each precinct. These voting machines, which are the touchscreens on which you actually vote, are officially called Ballot Marking Devices or BMDs.

Importantly, this new Rule only pertains to state-wide general elections such as the one coming up in November and in all Presidential elections. It does not pertain to local elections such as school board elections and local referendums. In these elections, the state allows each county the flexibility to determine what is best for their particular circumstances.

County will implement the Rule of 250 for the first time and deploy more voting machines than ever before. At some voting locations, voters will see twice as many voting machines as they saw in the May primary. For instance, Precinct 7, our precinct with the most registered voters and hosted by New Life Church, will go from using eight machines to 16 machines.

One consequence of the new law and the extra machines is that you may find the polling locations a bit more crowded than in previous years. That said, our Election’s team will continue to ensure that polling stations are a safe environment for all voters.

This bill is intended to reduce wait times on Election Day and improve the voter experience.

Ultimately, the goal is to get more registered voters to go to the polls each Election Day and participate in our nation’s democratic process. We are confident that the new legislation will help achieve this goal. Thank you for your time and please remember to vote.

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