With questions remaining over how safe in-person voting will be this spring, the Georgia secretary of state’s office has announced a step that will make it easier for voters to cast mail-in ballots for the May primary election.
All 6.9 million registered voters in Georgia are already eligible to vote by absentee mail-in ballot. Ordinarily, a voter would be responsible for going online to fill out an application in order to receive a ballot in the mail.
But because of concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, the secretary of state’s office is taking the preemptive step of mailing each registered voter an application. Voters would then simply have to fill out that application and return it in order to receive their ballot for the May primary.
“Times of turbulence and upheaval like the one we Georgians face require decisive action if the liberties we hold so dear are to be preserved,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Georgia’s presidential primary was originally scheduled to take place March 24. But it was postponed to May 19 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Thousands of ballots that were cast before voting was halted will still be counted. The May 19 election will feature the presidential contest (for those who’ve not already cast a vote) along with local and legislative primary races.
State Sen. Nikema Williams, chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, applauded the move to mail all voters absentee ballot applications.
“This global health emergency showcases exactly why we must embrace solutions that ensure every voter can cast their ballot and have their vote counted without risking their health or that of their loved ones,” said Williams. “I want to thank the secretary of state for putting the people before partisanship, and guaranteeing that every Georgian will receive an application to vote by mail for our primary elections.”
Early voting for the May primary begins April 27.
Advanced voting locations are still scheduled to open that day, but with enhanced protections in place to help prevent the spread of germs.
The secretary of state’s office also addressed concerns about the large number of older Georgians who serve as poll workers. It said it would make efforts to help counties hire younger people to help fill that void if older people choose not to work as a precaution.