Georgia election officials extend use of ballot drop boxes

Georgia’s state election board voted Wednesday to extend a rule allowing counties to utilize absentee ballot drop boxes through elections in November.

The board voted unanimously to extend that rule as well as another that lets counties begin processing but not tallying absentee ballots before election day.

Those rules were initially approved before the state’s June 9 primary elections in order to help counties deal with a wave of mail ballots as voters sought to avoid voting in person because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wednesday’s decision extends the rules so they stay in effect for primary runoffs in August and the general election Nov. 3.

Over a million voters in Georgia cast a ballot by mail in the June 9 primary, far outpacing the rate of mail voting in previous elections.

But Georgians won’t have quite the same access to mail voting as they did in that election. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has said he won’t proactively send absentee ballot applications to all 6.9 million active registered voters, as he did ahead of the June 9 primary, citing costs of the program.

The Republican elections chief says he instead plans to build an online portal where voters can submit their application to receive an absentee ballot.