Georgia Secretary of State expects record turnout for state elections this fall

Tuesday marked the first day county elections officials could mail absentee ballots to voters and with 190,000 already requested. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he expects to see strong turnout for the general election.

"We think we'll see record turnout for this state election," Sec. Raffensperger explained.

According to Raffensperger, 4 million Georgians cast ballots in the 2018 election while 5 million participated in the 2020 presidential election.  He predicts the number this time around will be at least 4.5 million.

Voters may notice changes since they last went to the polls because of Senate Bill 202, also known as the "Election Integrity Act."

Under the legislation, lawmakers extended early voting to an extra Saturday, meaning there are now 17 required days of advanced voting statewide.  They also gave counties the ability to opt in to as many as two Sundays of early voting.

"Those two Saturdays of early voting [are] tremendous," said Raffensperger.  "So, if you work Monday to Friday, you always have Saturdays to vote early and we've really are seeing that's the preferred way of people voting."

Absentee ballot

The biggest changes, however, will be felt by those voting absentee.

Voters can go online to request an absentee ballot, but must provide their driver's license number or attach a copy of another acceptable form of identification on their application.

Anyone requesting an absentee ballot must print out the application, sign it and submit it to their county elections office either in person, by mail or electronically.  County elections officials must receive the application by Oct. 28.  

Once a voter completes their ballot, they again have three options for returning it—in person, by mail or in an absentee ballot drop box.  

The rules for the boxes, however, have changed.  While counties have to provide at least one dropbox, they cannot provide more than one per 100,000 registered voters.  The dropboxes now have to be located indoors at early voting locations and are only open to voters during advance voting hours.  

"When you receive your absentee ballot, if that's how you're voting, I would encourage you to fill it out and send it back as soon as possible because with SB 202, the counties can now do pre-processing and so the more that they can pre-process, the faster we'll get those results," Sec. Raffensperger said.

Pre-processing is when poll workers verify the voter's signature, separate the ballot from the envelope and scan the ballot into a machine.  They cannot, though, tally the ballots until after the polls close on Election Day.

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