Georgia to mail absentee ballot request forms to all voters

Election officials say this is about safety

ATLANTA — Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced that election officials will mail a form that can be used to request an absentee ballot to all 6.9 million registered voters in the state, after opting to postpone the state’s March 24 presidential primaries to May because of the coronavirus.

“We are mailing out the ballot applications to every voter - 6.9 million,” Raffensperger told Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray.

Raffensperger encouraged as many voters as possible to vote by mail, as the virus continued to spread. Voters in Georgia can vote absentee by mail without needing to give an excuse.

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“We’ve always had that, but a lot of people haven’t taken advantage of it,” Raffensperger said.

Georgia was second state in the country, after Louisiana, to postpone its presidential primaries earlier this month. Early voting was halted midstream and the state’s March 24 presidential primary elections were moved to May 19, when Georgia’s other 2020 primary elections are set to be held.

While Raffensperger is encouraging as many voters as possible to vote by mail, some rely on in-person voting to exercise their right to vote privately and securely.

“It’s very important that we can kind of spread that out just to make it a manageable successful election for everyone,” Raffensperger said.

Raffensperger said that all poll workers will receive additional resources to clean the equipment regularly. In-person voters who show up to vote in person will be instructed to maintain a safe distance when waiting to vote.

Liberal voting rights group Fair Fight Action agreed with the move to mail applications, but complained:

“Secretary Raffensperger is now asking Georgians who have tested positive for coronavirus or who are at extreme risk for coronavirus to leave their homes and stand in line to buy stamps, rather than him taking the blatantly obvious and stunningly simple step of having the state prepay for return postage.”

Raffensperger told Gray that it was a money issue and would Georgians another $4 million for the return postage.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

People are asked to stay home for 2 weeks amid the coronavirus outbreak