Georgia’s primary pushed back again due to coronavirus pandemic

ATLANTA — State officials have again postponed Georgia’s presidential primary due to the coronavirus pandemic.

There are currently more than 10,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Georgia. Hundreds of people have died.

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The primary was originally supposed to take place on March 24. In-person early voting, which began statewide March 2, was previously moved to May 19, but now has been pushed even further to June 9.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the decision is due to Gov. Brian Kemp’s extension of the public health state of emergency.

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“Due to the Governor’s extension of the state of emergency through a time period that includes almost every day of in-person voting for an election on May 19, and after careful consideration, I am now comfortable exercising the authority vested in me by Georgia law to postpone the primary election until June 9,” said Secretary Raffensperger. “This decision allows our office and county election officials to continue to put in place contingency plans to ensure that voting can be safe and secure when in-person voting begins and prioritizes the health and safety of voters, county election officials, and poll workers.”

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Raffensperger told Channel 2’s Richard Elliot on the phone that he's doing this, not because of political pressure, but because he's concerned about the health of voters and poll workers.

“We had to make two decisions. One is we had to make sure we kept our voters first, so we’re putting voters first. And then we had to consider our poll workers. The average age of a poll worker in Georgia is over 70 years old.

Georgia is currently under a public health state of emergency. That order will now be in place until May 13. Gov. Kemp also extended the state’s shelter-in-place order through the end of April.

“This measure will allow us to continue to deploy resources to communities in need, lend support to frontline medical providers, and keep preparing as we brace for potential patient surge in our healthcare facilities," Kemp said. “We deeply appreciate the hard work of Georgians who are sheltering in place, using social distancing, and helping us flatten the curve. We are in this fight together.”

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The voter registration deadline for the June 9 election will be May 11. Early voting will begin on May 18. Moving the primary election to June 9 will move the primary runoff to Aug. 11. Raffensperger said pushing back the primary to June 9 gives Georgia election officials additional time to put in place contingency plans to allow for safe and secure voting, but pushing back the primary election any further could potentially have negative consequences on preparation for the Nov. 3 general election. Given existing deadlines to prepare and send ballots for the November election, particularly for military voters, moving forward on June 9 is the best way to ensure a successful election year in Georgia, Raffensperger said.

Absentee ballot applications for the upcoming primary election will continue to be accepted and processed by counties even if the application said May 19. Once county election officials properly verify the signature on the application, the voter will be sent an absentee ballot for the primary election now to be held on June 9.

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