Douglas County’s elections supervisor said Tuesday he is ready to meet the state’s absentee ballot deadline for the upcoming presidential election — even if the state pushes the date back.
Absentee ballots will also be sent out next week to Douglas County residents who have requested them, Douglas Elections Supervisor Milton Kidd said.
In Carroll County, Elections Supervisor Greg Rigby said his office will also start mailing ballots out to voters by Sept. 18. He added the deadline extension will not impact the presidential election in Carroll because he does not anticipate receiving many ballots after Election Day.
On Tuesday, Georgia’s elections chief appealed a federal judge’s ruling that absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day should be counted.
U.S. District Court Judge Eleanor Ross of the Northern District of Georgia extended the deadline last week for absentee ballots to be returned in Georgia, ruling that ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by elections officials for up to three days after should be counted.
But Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s attorneys wrote that the coronavirus pandemic should not have an impact on election rules so close to when voters will start receiving absentee ballots later this month.
More voters than ever are relying on absentee ballots during the coronavirus pandemic to avoid the potential health risk of human contact at polling places. Since 2005, Georgia law has allowed any registered voter to request such a ballot without having to provide an excuse.
Kidd said his office is prepared to start sending ballots to the county’s registered voters who have requested a ballot next week on Sept. 15.
He encourages voters who request an absentee ballot to return them as soon as possible to the elections office.
Voters can also return their ballots without relying on the U.S. Postal Service. Many counties, including Douglas, have set up drop boxes where voters can deposit their ballots until polls close on Election Day. Kidd said there are five boxes within Douglas County for voters.
Elections officials have until Nov. 20 to certify the results, and a later date could give supervisors less time to finish counting ballots. Additionally, voters might have less time to correct mistakes on their absentee ballots, such as missing or mismatched signatures and not providing required information.
Kidd said election results will be unofficial until all ballots have been counted.
Raffensperger also claimed during a news conference on Tuesday that investigators have identified 1,000 alleged instances in which state voters intentionally cast ballots twice, once using an absentee ballot and again in-person.
He said 150,000 Georgians applied for an absentee vote and then showed up to have that vote canceled during the June primary. He added 1,000 of those voters then cast their ballots twice, but he did not provide evidence as to how his office might know this for certain.
Intentionally voting twice is a felony in Georgia and carries a one to 10-year prison sentence and a fine up to $100,000 upon conviction, Raffensperger noted.
Voters can request absentee ballots through a website created by Raffensperger’s office at ballotrequest.sos.ga.gov.
After the ballot has been returned, voters can use the state’s My Voter Page at mvp.sos.ga.gov to check the status of their ballots. Anyone who needs to register to vote in the upcoming election can also use this website.