Atlanta

State’s top elections officials say they will be ready for primary following redistricting decision

ATLANTA — State and county workers have begun urgent, time-sensitive work to ensure voters lining up at the polls will be in the right precinct with the right ballots.

It comes after a federal judge ordered and approved the redrawing of the state’s congressional and legislative maps.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne spoke with the state’s top election officials Wednesday about the rush to make sure everything is in order for the 2024 election season.

“How quickly after Judge Jones’ ruling in late December did your office get to work on implementing it?” Winne asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

“Immediately,” Raffensperger said. “Probably right that afternoon, because we knew that we were under a time crunch to get that done.”

“The stakes are high to get this right, right off the bat and avoid any controversy over people voting in the wrong place and that sort of thing, right?” Winne asked state elections director Blake Evans.

“Absolutely, because redistricting is a key part, probably the most key part in making sure that people get the right ballots,” Evans said.

Making sure by March that maps approved by a federal judge in late December mean what they’re supposed to for millions of Georgia voters, and making sure those voters can cast their ballots in the right redrawn congressional, state House, and state Senate districts in 2024, is urgent business for state elections officials and their counterparts at the county level.

“When the county does their work, we check their work and then we send it to the county, they’re checking our work,” Raffensperger said.

Raffensperger told Winne that he knows the nation’s eyes will be on Georgia starting with the March presidential primary.

“We’re building ballots and we’ll get that done,” Raffensperger said.

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In December, U.S. District Judge Steven Jones found the General Assembly complied with the court’s order requiring the creation of Black-majority districts in regions of the state where voter dilution was found.

Evans said the redistricting affects more than 3.4 million Georgia voters.

“It’s a tremendous sense of urgency. County election officials have been preparing for this,” Evans told Winne. “The 3.4 million-plus represents about 44% of the total number of voters in the state.”

Evans said hours after his interview with Winne, the secretary of state’s office rolled back out a high-tech quality assurance tool first used to prepare for the 2022 election cycle.

“It’s very important that we get this done efficiently so that we make sure that everybody gets the right ballots and so the elections run smoothly,” Evans said.

Evans said the first major challenge will be the May general primaries and a big part of the work for affected counties is making sure voters are assigned to the right precincts.

“We’ve asked that all counties complete the process by early February so that we give enough time to be able to build the ballots for the May general primary,” Raffensperger said.

“We’re also in the process of doing our health checks for all 159 different counties to give voters confidence that the machines have been checked, they’ve not been tampered with, they’re accurately recording all the votes,” Raffensperger continued.

Evans said voters affected by redistricting should be sent a new precinct card from the counties in which they live and if voters want to check and make sure they’re going to the right place, they can go to the “my voter” page to see their polling location and what legislative and congressional districts they should be voting for.

Evans said the redistricting should have minimal effect on the presidential primary, but a major impact from then on.

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