I’m posting this Q&A I received from the Secretary of State’s office as a way to hopefully clarify some questions and concerns about the upcoming primary in May and the impact of COVID-19.
As coronavirus has upended our daily lives, pushed many into quarantine, and caused chaos in the economy, elections in Georgia have changed – temporarily – to meet the unique moment all Americans are facing.
Here’s a helpful Q and A on what has changed in Georgia’s elections process:
Q: Is the Secretary of State sending ballots to everyone in Georgia?
The Secretary of State is not sending ballots to everyone in Georgia. The Secretary of State is sending ballot request forms to active voters in Georgia for the upcoming May election only. Anyone who chooses to vote this way still has to fill out the form, send it in by mail, and then cast a ballot for the May election after first receiving the ballot in the mail as well. They will then have to send their ballots in by mail on time to have their ballots counted.
Again, the Secretary of State is sending request forms, not ballots, which can also be downloaded online, in an effort to make it easier for those who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 to vote in a way that has been available to them since 2005, if they choose not to vote in person.
Is Georgia implementing mail in voting?
The Secretary of State is not implementing statewide mail-in voting. Anyone who does not send in the form to request an absentee ballot, and have their application approved by their county election office after matching their signature, must vote in-person on election day.
Is mailing voters absentee ballot request forms a precursor to all mail-in voting in Georgia?
In past elections, only around 5 percent of Georgians have voted by mail. There are a number of reasons the vast majority of Georgians prefer to vote in person and, though coronavirus has changed a lot, we are confident the same 95% of Georgians will return to their polling locations once the crisis passes. Georgia law requires in-person voting, the best way to uphold the one person one vote standard, and the Secretary of State has zero intention of changing that.
Georgia voters will still be able to vote in person during the May elections and all elections this year. We are taking every precaution to allow Georgians to vote in person safely and confidently. We have stocked up on sanitary supplies and are training poll workers on effective social distancing measures.
What has the Secretary of State done to provide safe, secure, and reliable elections while also keeping the people of Georgia safe from coronavirus?
The Secretary of State will provide absentee ballot request forms to all active Georgia voters for the May election, so those who are worried about coronavirus at the polling place can vote absentee. Voting absentee by mail is an option that has been available to Georgia voters with no excuse necessary for 15 years. Polling places, mandated by law, will be provided with extra sanitation supplies, and poll workers will be trained to ensure social distancing is observed.