Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp described budget cutting efficiency efforts and anticipation that Georgia would benefit from more primary attention with the March presidential primary date during his stop at the Rockdale Rotary on Wednesday morning.
His office recently announced that Georgia's presidential preference date would be on March 6, 2012, "Super Tuesday," with 15 other states.
"I really feel good about Georgia being in a strong position to actually have candidates come to our state and campaign, where in years past we have not had that," he said. "We’ve kind of been disregarded."
In 2008, Georgia was one of 24 states that had their primary on February 5. Being in the same primary pool as large states, such as California and New York, "sucked all the air out of the race."
With the March 6 primary date, disregarding Texas and Massachusetts, which would likely go to Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, Georgia would be one of the largest states in the pool.
Kemp also spoke about streamlining the Secretary of State's office services and cutting costs by turning to technology.
"We have been able to reduce our budget by 27 percent. We reduced our personnel 30 percent. And we’re still doing the same amount of work," said Kemp.
He said a large saving came from turning to emails more for renewal notices, cutting down on the number of postcards to be sent out and the labor to be spent sending them out. Paper mail has been reduced by scanning all mail that comes in
Kemp said his office began using zero-based budgeting and posted the budget online.
"We make sure there’s nothing I can’t stand up and justify in front of people," said Kemp.
He also described the Military Overseas Voting Empowerment (MOVE) Act, which would make absentee ballots available electronically 45 days before the general election for military men and women serving overseas. Previously, paper absentee ballots were mailed out.
"We don't feel like there should be one vote lost because of slow mail service," he said.
Recent reductions to the in-person early voting period from 45 days to 21 days before the general election was put in place because of the requests of local election offices in order to reduce costs, said Kemp. About 83 percent of votes during the early voting period are cast in the last three weeks anyway, he said.
Kemp mentioned the Secretary of State's Office is also looking to review the state election code.
Kemp was appointed by Governor Sonny Perdue in January 2010 and elected in November 2010.