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University of Georgia to allow football – but not vote personally – this fall



Meanwhile, thousands of fans are expected to attend UGA’s first home football game on October 3.

The university could not find a suitable location to vote early on campus, according to an announcement Wednesday by the non-partisan student-led voter registration group UGAVotes. The group had hoped that in-person voting could take place in the university’s main basketball arena to avoid long lines and crowded conditions, but the university did not believe it had the resources to clean the colosseum at night, said Marshall Berton, a junior and UGAVotes’ executive director.

“From the student’s perspective, it is absolutely disappointing to see that UGA prioritize football games, and how long and hard they have worked to get it to work and get to a good point where everyone is comfortable said Juliet Eden, a senior and communications director of Fair Fight UGA, a division of the voting rights group founded by former Democratic Governor nominee Stacey Abrams. “It’s hard not to see them fighting just as hard to provide a safe environment for early voting on campus.”

But a UGA spokesperson pushed back the idea that voting in person should be compared to watching a game.

“Those comparing this issue to a football game should be able to acknowledge that football matches are played outside, but we will still need to take social distance by significantly reducing the capacity in the stadium,” UGA spokesman Greg Trevor told an e-mail on Wednesday. mail to CNN. “We also eliminated tailgating because of the desire to keep the campus as safe as possible and to limit visitors during the pandemic.”

According to the school’s website, the Sanford Stadium, which can seat more than 90,000 people, will have about 20% to 25% capacity for football matches. And the Athens Banner-Herald reported in August that the school’s athletics department assured its boosters that it would spend significant resources on measures such as more coronavirus testing and improved decontamination procedures in the fall.
Personal voting took place on the UGA campus for both the 2016 presidential and 2018 midterm elections. This year, students can still use absentee ballots, which are increasingly used during the Covid-19 pandemic, or vote at an off-campus location in central Athens.

The university said it will provide a shuttle service to the downtown voting site.

“This is certainly a disappointing decision in our view. But we are confident that there are alternatives to on-campus voting that can complement this voting venue,” UGAVotes’ Berton told CNN. “We’re by no means experts when it comes to social distancing or reorganization, so if the university didn’t believe they could take those precautions to make voting safe for everyone, that’s ultimately the decision they’re going to make.”

The announcement caught the attention of a number of Georgian politicians, including Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff, who tweeted, “I urge the UGA to reverse course immediately and provide students with safe early voting on campus!”
Fair Fight UGA has made a petition asking the school to change its decision, and Abrams shared, tweeting, “# COVID19 should never be used as an excuse to limit voting rights, including on college campuses.” Within hours, more than 600 people had signed.
“If we can have football, we should vote too,” Fair Fight UGA tweeted Wednesday.

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