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Georgia Politics

Raffensperger Backs Reform of Absentee Voting, Elimination of “No Excuse” Absentee Ballots

Raffensperger’s change in position comes after his office mailed absentee ballot applications to every registered voter in the state back in April of this year.

For the upcoming General Assembly, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and County Election Officials are calling for reform of the no excuse absentee ballot request rule to allow Georgia’s elections officials to effectively run elections in Georgia. Georgia currently requires strained county elections officials to hold three weeks of early, in-person voting, election day voting, and unfettered, no-excuse absentee ballot voting, which strains county resources and budgets.

“In light of the past few months and the overwhelming amount of paper absentee ballots that have been requested, processed and counted, I would support legislation that would require all applicants to provide a reason to receive an absentee ballot by mail,” said Paulding County Elections and Registration Supervisor Deidre Holden. “It would also help with the expense on a county budget due to the extreme cost incurred in the processing of a ballot from beginning to end.”

“Reforming Georgia’s absentee ballot request process to only those have a specific need would take a large burden off of the overwhelmed elections officials here in Lowndes County and across the state,” said Lowndes County Elections Director Deb Cox.

“Asking county elections officials to hold no excuse absentee ballot voting in addition to three weeks of early, in-person voting, and election day voting is too much to manage,” said Secretary Raffensperger. “The way Georgia’s election system is set up under law, county elections officials are essentially required to run three elections simultaneously, one each for a population that wants to vote a different way. Until COVID-19, absentee ballot voters were mostly those who needed to cast absentee ballots. For the sake of our resource stretched and overwhelmed elections officials, we need to reform our absentee ballot system.”

No-excuse absentee ballot voting was passed by the Georgia legislature in 2005 and signed into law by then-Governor Sonny Perdue. For years, the provision was used by between 5% and 7% of Georgia voters, with maximum absentee ballot turnout lower than 300,000 total ballots cast. Such a small percentage of absentee ballots was difficult but manageable for county officials.

As COVID-19 hit Georgia and the country, county elections officials had to deal with an overwhelming surge in absentee ballot voting. The problems caused by the surge in absentee ballots contributed to the long lines seen during the June primaries. Voters who were able to vote in person but requested absentee ballots anyway showed up at the polls to vote in person but still had to cancel their requested ballots. This further slowed down voting lines.

Under current law, Georgia’s county elections officials are effectively tasked with running three parallel elections: early, in-person voting; no-excuse absentee by mail voting; and election day voting. The set up requires elections officials to split their focus, energy, and resources between the three different populations who cast ballots in different ways.

Before COVID-19 hit, many of those who took advantage of no-excuse absentee ballot voting did in fact have a good reason to cast a ballot absentee by mail. As COVID-19 hit, individuals who were able to cast ballots in person nonetheless opted to cast a ballot by mail instead. This dramatically increased the burden on county elections officials who now have to process more than one million absentee ballots.

This is a press release from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    NELDA SMITH

    December 29, 2020 at 12:09 am

    TOO LATE! We know about the back room deal with Stacy Abrams, GA. DNC & Mark Elias (Perkins-Coie)..a paper trail was left for us! Why else would I have received 3 ballot applications that I never requested?

  2. Avatar

    Don

    December 29, 2020 at 6:04 pm

    It’s a clown show. We ask for transparency and fairness. They want to give it to us NEXT TIME. Face it Brad, you were not up to the task. Then there is Bozo the governor. The head clown. He has been called out and disgraced publicly. I still want to know if it is true Kemp’s former chief of staff resigned to lobby our state to buy the Dominion voting machines? Nothing to see here folks….move along!

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