We got a response from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office last night to the calls that he delay the May primary. In responding, he calls on the Georgia General Assembly to pass legislation to enable him to delay the primary election.
“To set the record straight: our job is to execute elections, we don’t create them. We are happy to execute the election whether is it in May or in June or any other time. But legislature must legislate.” — Brad Raffensperger
I’m not an election law expert or attorney, but the Secretary of State is likely between a rock and a hard place on this issue. His office is having to comply with conducting primary elections twenty-four weeks prior to the general election per Georgia election law (O.C.G.A. Section 21-2-150)–which would be May 19th.
This doesn’t appear to give him much wiggle room to accommodate requests to move the primary date, so his office is trying to comply with the law (and likely trying to avoid having the state embroiled in a lawsuit post-public health emergency) while also trying to keep the health and safety of elections officials and voters in mind by sending out absentee ballot application forms to all registered voters in Georgia.
Of course, calling the Georgia General Assembly back to change election law in the midst of a public health emergency is likely a no-go during this public health emergency. Not to mention, the self-isolation period of the members and staffers of the Georgia Senate expired this week after being exposed to COVID-19 during the last special session earlier in March.
It’s not an ideal situation, but it appears the Secretary of State and his office is playing the hand they were dealt.