Sec. of State to send forms to vote by mail

Sec. of State to send forms to vote by mail
Letting people vote by mail will ensure social distancing. (Source: WDBJ7)

ATLANTA, Ga. (WALB) - Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he is taking unprecedented steps to protect the health of Georgia voters, while also upholding the integrity of the vote because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Raffensperger will be mailing absentee ballot request forms to every Georgia voter to ensure all Georgians can vote without fear for their health.

“Times of turbulence and upheaval like the one we Georgians face require decisive action if the liberties we hold so dear are to be preserved,” said Raffensperger. “I am acting today because the people of Georgia, from the earliest settlers to heroes like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Congressman John Lewis, have fought too long and too hard for their right to vote to have it curtailed. Georgia has faced challenges before and overcome them, and we can do so again through the grit and ingenuity that has made America a shining example for democracies around the world.”

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. (Source: WALB)

Raffensperger is moving to increase Georgia voter access and protect the public health of voters and poll workers during the COVID-19 emergency through increased mail-in voting. In the 2016 and 2018 November elections, only 5 percent who did so by mail.

With social distancing as the most important tool for limiting the spread of coronavirus, providing alternatives to voting in person is crucial. All Georgia voters can request and vote an absentee ballot for any reason.

Raffensperger will send absentee ballot request forms to Georgia’s 6.9 million voters in an effort to allow as many Georgia voters as possible to exercise their right to vote without leaving their homes.

Registered voters simply have to fill out and return the application to vote by mail in the upcoming elections with no in-person risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Georgia’s most vulnerable, those over age 65 and those with a disability, can request absentee ballots for the primary and general election, as well as all elections through the 2020 election cycle with this one application.

Other voters will need to submit another application for future elections.

While the state is encouraging as many voters as possible to vote by mail, some rely on in-person voting to exercise their right to vote privately and securely. People without internet or mail access, such as those experiencing homelessness, Georgians who need language assistance and people with disabilities who rely on voting machines to cast their ballot will still be able to do so in person on the state’s new voting system, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Poll workers will receive additional resources to clean the equipment regularly. In-person voters who show up to vote in person will be instructed to maintain a safe distance when waiting to vote.

“These measures will protect poll workers as well,” Raffensperger said. "Extra staff will allow those who feel sick to be absent from the polls without significantly impacting continuity while a younger pool of workers will increase resiliency in the face of the COVID-19 threat.

Raffensperger said he is taking these unprecedented actions for the safety and security of Georgia’s voters.

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