Emergency rule will help in earlier absentee ballot processing in Georgia

ATLANTA — Georgia county elections boards will be able to begin processing absentee ballots two weeks before Election Day and be required to begin processing in the week prior to Election Day, according to an emergency rule passed by the state elections board Monday.

“If we want results any time quickly, I think we need to do this,” advised state elections board attorney, Ryan Germany during a specially called meeting.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Election 2020]

The rule, which features the new requirement, will allow counties to more time to start separating the ballots, a process that prepares them for tabulation. It’s an extension of a rule from the General Election, which also allowed processing to begin two weeks ahead of Election Day. It’s strengthened by requiring the counties to process in the week leading up to Election Day. By Georgia law, tabulation can not begin until Election Day.

[Record amount of absentee ballots requested for Georgia runoff elections]

With record absentee voting, the processing phase led to days of work following the general election in many counties.

Surveillance on absentee drop boxes

The board also passed a measure that will require counties to preserve absentee drop box surveillance video for 30 days following Election Day.

The surveillance has been a part of investigations launched by the state, after receiving unfounded complaints that voters in certain counties may have been able to drop ballots in boxes after the 7 p.m. Election Day deadline. State law requires each box to be securely locked by the deadline.

Channel 2 Action News showed you how investigators were reviewing that surveillance earlier this month.

There have not been any investigations that have resulted in proof of this happening. As a part of the measure, the state will be able to obtain surveillance through open records requests and make them available to the public, free of charge.

Residency measure

A rule making residency proof more stringent has been tabled until an unknown date, as critics worry about possible disenfranchisement. Since the January runoff was confirmed, state elections officials have warned against attempts to temporarily move to the state to support a candidate in the two high-stakes elections.

Read more about the concern and warning here.