For the Senate runoff races, election officials in Cobb County, the state’s third most populous county, are planning to open fewer than half of the early voting locations that were available in the general election. Voting rights groups said on Monday that the changes would harm Black and Latino voters.
Mr. Biden won Cobb County, part of the Atlanta suburbs, by 14 percentage points, improving on Hillary Clinton’s two-point margin in 2016. But the county is planning to open only five early voting locations for the runoffs, down from 11, one of the largest such reductions in the state. Nearly 400,000 people voted in Cobb County in the general election, many through early in-person or mail-in voting.
Janine Eveler, the director of elections in Cobb County, said that the county was forced to cut back on polling locations because of severe staffing shortages. “It was not our desire to reduce the number of early voting locations for the runoff, but, unfortunately, it became a necessity,” she said in a statement.
But Georgia Democrats see partisan politics at play in a county that is currently controlled by Republicans. They noted that the locations that were closed were in largely Democratic neighborhoods, including places with large Black and Latino populations.
Voting rights and civil rights groups pleaded in a letter to Ms. Eveler and other officials to keep all 11 sites open.
“Georgia’s Black and Latinx residents are more likely to live in poverty than other residents and will have more difficulty traveling long distances to access advance voting locations, especially because of the limited public transportation options in Cobb County,” the letter said. “As a result, the elimination of advance voting locations will discourage or prevent many of Cobb County’s Black and Latinx voters from participating in the runoff election.”
Groups including the N.A.A.C.P. and Fair Fight Action, the voting rights organization led by Ms. Abrams, had offered to help recruit more election workers, but Ms. Eveler said there would not be enough time to train them.