Inside the Vote: Absentee by mail voting in Georgia

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 6: slowdowns in the U.S. Postal Service have spurred concerns about delivery and receipt of ballots for the November elections. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever are turning to absentee by mail voting. 

According to the Georgia Secretary or State's Office, more than 1.5 million Georgians requested an absentee ballot for the June 9 primary and they expect to see even more for November 3.

How do I go about getting an absentee ballot for the November 3 election?

Across the state, tens of thousands of voters have already logged on to the Secretary of State's new online portal,, to request an absentee ballot. 

"In 30 seconds or less you can pull that up and actually register that you want an absentee ballot sent to your house," Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger told FOX 5.

Here's how it works. Type in your:

  • Name
  • Birth Date
  • Driver's License Number
  • Fill out a short form, and you're done.

You can also opt to fill out a paper form, which is available from your county's elections office, and mail it back in.

How quickly should I apply for my absentee ballot?

No matter which option you choose, election officials advise to do it sooner rather than later.

"The earlier that they can apply the better. That's for them and for us," said Kristi Royston, Gwinnett County Elections Supervisor. "We want to make sure we're able to get that ballot out as quickly as possible."

When should I fill out my absentee ballot?

The short answer: The sooner, the better.

According to Royston, Gwinnett County plans to start sending absentee ballots by the end of September. Once yours arrives in your mailbox, don't wait.

"When they're ready to vote, go ahead and get that ballot voted and back in to us," she said.

What do I need to do to return my absentee ballot?

Voters have three options for returning their absentee ballots:

  1. You can mail it back
  2. Hand deliver it to your county elections office
  3. Place it in one of the new secure drop boxes in your county

The State Elections Board voted to allow counties to install the secure drop boxes this year to add flexibility and convenience for voters amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Raffensperger. 

"Sometimes it sits there on your kitchen table, sits there on your kitchen table and you say, 'Oh, it's too late now.'  Well, with a drop box it's not too late," he told FOX 5. "You just get it in before 7 p.m. on [November 3]."  

I've submitted by absentee ballot, now what?

Once you've submitted your absentee ballot, you can check that it's been received and accepted on the Secretary of State's "My Voter" page. The page will also indicated if elections officials have rejected your ballot for some reason, such as a signature mismatch. In that case, the county also has to notify you so that you can correct the problem by Friday, November 6.

Should I be worried about voting absentee?

Royston has worked in elections for two decades and says one of the biggest misconceptions voters have is about voting absentee.

"In that 20 years I couldn't tell you the number of times that I've heard, 'Well, I don't want to vote absentee by mail because they only count those if it's close.... and as long as your signature matches, it's going to be accepted and it's going to be counted," she said.

A federal judge recently ruled that elections officials have to county any absentee mail in ballots that arrive within three days after election day, as long as they are postmarked by November 3. However, that could be overturned on appeal.