ATLANTA — With less than a week before the June 9 primary, more than 1 million Georgians have already made their voices heard.
As of Friday, 1,108,732 people have participated in early voting — roughly 76% by mail-in ballots.
Despite the pandemic upending the elections system, the number greatly surpassed the 223,000 mail-in votes collected during the close 2018 gubernatorial election.
“Elections officials across the state have worked throughout the COVID-19 crisis to preserve the ways that Georgia voters prefer to cast their ballots,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said. “... Though we encourage anyone who has requested an absentee ballot to return it by mail or submit it in a dropbox, we look forward to providing safe in-person voting on Election Day as well.”
So far, during early voting, 262,135 Georgians chose to vote in person.
There are still 699,940 outstanding absentee ballots, which are required to be returned to county elections offices no later than 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 9.
If a voter has an absentee ballot but decides to vote in person instead, the voter must bring the absentee ballot to the polling location so it can be disposed of.
However, some voters are still waiting for their absentee ballots to arrive in the mail after requesting them weeks ago — largely in Metro Atlanta. Election officials said Thursday that 96% of requested ballots have been delivered to voters.
For voters who decide to take to the voting booth, the secretary of state’s office said, bring a mask and prepare for longer wait times.
The office also encourages voters to check their county elections website for polling locations, since many regular sites across the state have closed due to the pandemic.
About half of Georgia’s 159 counties have decided to take advantage of the state election board’s emergency rule allowing them to begin handling — but not counting — absentee ballots June 1 to lessen the blow to local election workers.
But it’s still anybody’s guess as to when results will be available because of the unprecedented number of absentee ballots to count.