The University of Georgia reversed its field on Thursday, approving on-campus early voting for the Nov. 3 election after students and others accused the school of voter suppression. The polling site will be in the basketball arena.
The university, located in Athens, had initially rejected options for voting at the school over coronavirus fears, prompting critics to call out UGA’s hypocrisy because it’s expected to host football games with thousands of fans.
UGA Votes, a student voting rights group, tweeted Wednesday that the university had rejected possible campus voting locations over health liability concerns. UGA Votes wrote that it had proposed the school’s basketball arena for safer social distancing, but said that was nixed. UGA said in response it would provide shuttles to a voting location near the school.
The outcry was swift. Critics online said the university was sending wildly mixed messages about its pandemic precautions because in-class learning was already in progress and UGA has been preparing for its football team’s home opener on Oct. 3 against Auburn University. Around 20,000 fans could be allowed, according to a previously reported plan.
School spokesman Greg Trevor defended the football schedule, writing that safety protocols were established and that the games took place outdoors. But on Thursday the university appeared to completely walk back its initial stance on school voting. It offered Stegeman Coliseum, where the Bulldogs basketball team plays, as a polling station. Election authorities approved the site later in the day.
“We are pleased to announce that Stegeman Coliseum at the University of Georgia has been approved by state and local officials to serve as an early voting site on the UGA campus,” Trevor said in a statement to HuffPost. “Social distancing protocols will be followed in this large, indoor venue.”
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more information
In-person early voting dates: Varies by state
Sometimes circumstances make it hard or impossible for you to vote on Election Day. But your state may let you vote during a designated early voting period. You don't need an excuse to vote early. Visit your state election office website to find out whether they offer early voting.My Election Office
General Election: Nov 3, 2020
Polling hours on Election Day: Varies by state/localityMy Polling Place