Demand For Absentee Ballots In Georgia Surpasses 1 Million Mark

A newly installed dropbox allows voters in DeKalb County to return their absentee ballot without human interaction.

Emil Moffatt / WABE

More than a million Georgia voters have requested absentee ballots for the June primaries.

That’s according to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who mailed ballot applications to all 6.9 million active Georgia voters last month amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The state’s presidential primary has been delayed twice because of the virus and will now take place June 9, alongside state and local races.

The number of potential absentee votes that may be cast stands in stark contrast to the general primary of 2016 when only 39,000 voted by mail.

Raffensperger said his office is considering an emergency measure that would allow counties to begin tallying absentee ballots before Election Day to relieve the pressure of scanning all the mail-in ballots in just one day.

“That’s something we’re considering right now based on what each county will be looking at, so that counties won’t be waiting a week-and-a-half to get the results,” said Raffensperger.

He says 640,000 ballots of been mailed so far and some are starting to return. The process hasn’t been without hiccups, however. A miscommunication between the secretary of state’s office and the vendor printing the ballots resulted in an “inner” envelope not being included in the packet voters receive. Instead, a folded piece of paper called a “privacy sleeve” is where voters will place their ballots before placing it in the outer envelope.

Raffensperger says ballots sent out going forward will have updated instructions, making note of the sleeve.

In-person early voting is set to start May 18, but Raffensperger is still encouraging voters to request absentee ballots to reduce traffic at polling places during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our goal was two-fold,” said Raffensperger. “To keep voters safe and keep the pressure off of our in-person voting locations.”