June's presidential primary has some believing they already voted for president

File/Daily Citizen-News

The presidential election is Nov. 3. Local elections officials say some voters mistakenly believe that because they voted in the June presidential preference primary they have already voted for president. Those primaries merely chose the two major parties' presidential candidates.

Voters go to the polls on Nov. 3 to choose the next U.S. president. But some local voters seem to think they voted for president in June, according to local election officials.

"I'm getting calls every day from people who are confused," said Whitfield County Registrar Mary Hammontree. "They think they voted for president because they voted in the presidential preference primary."

Murray County Election Supervisor Larry Sampson says his office is getting the same calls.

"It happens every election," he said. "Some people don't understand the difference between a primary and election."

A primary is how the two major political parties nominate their candidates. It determines who gets on the ballot. President Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, faces Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the election. Voters still need to vote in the Nov. 3 election, either in person or by absentee ballot, if they want to vote for president, even if they voted in the presidential primary. Some voters will have other races on their ballots, including those in the 14th Congressional District (which includes Whitfield and Murray counties). Marjorie Taylor Greene of Rome is the Republican running, while Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal of Catoosa County dropped out of the race Friday citing personal reasons. Incumbent Republican Tom Graves, of Ranger, who is not seeking reelection.

Georgia law does not permit the replacement of a nominee who withdraws less than 60 days before an election, according to the Georgia Secretary of State's office. In this case, his withdrawal means there will be no Democratic candidate in the race.

Both Hammontree and Sampson say they are also getting calls from people who are getting unsolicited applications for absentee ballots from the Democratic and Republican parties as well as independent groups.

The goal of the groups sending these applications is to make sure the people they are sent to vote.

But it's leading to plenty of phone calls to elections offices. People are asking why they are being sent these ballots. Hammontree said the groups sending them often look at who voted in which primary and send the applications to those they think likely to vote for their favored candidates. Republican and conservative groups send them to people who have voted in Republican primaries, and Democratic and liberal groups send them to those who have voted Democratic.

They also want to know if these are legitimate absentee applications. The registrars say they are. But they also say some people are sending in multiple applications because they are getting them from different groups.

"Every piece of paper that comes into this office has to be dealt with and it is becoming overwhelming," Sampson said.

The Georgia Secretary of State's office has set up an online portal for people to request absentee ballots, and both elections officials say they would prefer that people who have internet access to use that portal and eliminate the paperwork. It can be accessed at securevotega.com/secureabsentee.

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