Editorial: Protect your and others' health, vote by absentee ballot

Georgians eligible to vote in the June 9 general primaries, presidential preference primaries and in a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) referendum in Whitfield County can vote this year by absentee ballot, and we strongly encourage you to do so in order to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

Despite some areas of society reopening recently following weeks of shutdown, such as some businesses, it is still vitally important to follow the advice of local, state and national health officials and take appropriate steps to inhibit the spread of COVID-19 since it has proved to be an insidious and deadly virus.

Basically, you should assume anyone you come in contact with may be infected with the virus and make decisions on that basis. Among the steps considered important are social distancing measures, and a good way to avoid close proximity to others is to avoid them entirely. Voting by absentee ballot allows you to do that.

Earlier this year, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said his office would mail absentee ballot request applications to every Georgia voter.

“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,” Raffensperger said in a statement. “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.”

Applications were to be mailed to the state's nearly 6.9 million active registered voters in an effort to ensure that all who want to vote can "without fear for their health."

In that spirit, it is important that Peach State residents learn from the example of the state of Wisconsin, where an election was held despite attempts to postpone it and at least 67 Wisconsin residents got COVID-19 after voting in person or working at the polls on April 7, according to the Wisconsin State Journal, a newspaper in Madison, although the newspaper added "it’s not clear how many infections may have been caused by the spring election because some had other possible exposures, the state Department of Health Services said ... ."

Still, why take a chance?

"With social distancing as the most important tool for limiting the spread of coronavirus," Raffensperger said in a press release, "providing alternatives to voting in person is crucial."

And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also in favor of absentee voting. The CDC recommends states “encourage mail-in methods of voting if allowed in the jurisdiction" given the coronavirus threat.

Protect your health and that of your fellow Georgians. Please vote by absentee ballot for the June 9 elections.

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