Secretary of State Responds To Calls To Delay Primary
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.
On a personal note: my driver’s license expired yesterday. I have the documentation readily available to renew it, of course. And I have … for the last month. But doing so required my physical presence: the DDS site would not let me do so online and there’s no reason to believe it would do so any time soon.
The state is waiving rules on expired licenses for drivers right now (not that I can drive anywhere.) And it is waiving rules for out-of-state driver’s licenses. What it is not doing is waiving voter ID laws — you still need in-state ID to register to vote here.
The pandemic is about to turn the question of residency into a voting nightmare. People who have been laid off are moving back in with their parents, and many, many of them are going to be crossing state lines when they do. They’re leaving their old places of residence, cannot register to vote where they live, and could not vote where they were registered.
As long as the ID issue remains fraught and people are scrambling to find shelter, it’s impossible to conduct a fair election.