Editorial: Stay safe and skip the lines: Request your absentee ballot online, then vote by mail in the November General Election

Voting by mail was extremely popular among Georgia voters for the June 9 General Primary.

How popular?

A record-breaking 1.6 million absentee ballot requests were received for the June primary, according to the Secretary of State's office. The large amount of requests was due to voters who were concerned about going to the polls during the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Many voters feared at the polls they wouldn't be able to maintain the recommended 6 feet of social distance, didn't want to use voting equipment that others had touched and worried about COVID-19 being spread through the air.

With the General Election quickly approaching on Nov. 3, the Secretary of State's office has developed a new voting portal where voters can request an absentee ballot without ever leaving their home. On the website, www.securevotega.com/secureabsentee, voters with a driver's license or state identification card can request an absentee ballot. Absentee ballots requested for the Nov. 3 General Election cannot be sent before Tuesday, Sept. 15.

"Georgia is constantly searching for new and innovative ways to expand access to the ballot and uphold the integrity of the vote," Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said. "We are encouraging Georgia voters who are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 threat to use our new online absentee ballot request portal to request absentee ballots safely and securely from their computers or phones. This new tool will help counties stay on top of the several million absentee ballot requests expected in November."

The old way of requesting an absentee ballot in Georgia went like this: you downloaded then printed an absentee ballot request; scanned and emailed the request or sent it off by mail. Raffensperger says the new website will save voters time and postage, "and will increase confidence that the request has been received by county elections officials. It also makes it easier and faster for county election official to process absentee ballot requests by minimizing the possibility of data entry errors."

Election Day is sure to be a busy voting day, and some parts of the state will have long voting lines. Voters will choose our next president -- Democrat Joe Biden or Republican Donald Trump -- to lead the country for the next four years. In Northwest Georgia, voters in the 14th Congressional District (which includes Whitfield and Murray counties) will choose between Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene of Rome and Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal of Catoosa County to fill the seat of incumbent Republican Tom Graves, of Ranger, who is not seeking reelection.

For those voters who feel more comfortable voting by mail, we suggest you submit your absentee ballot request as soon as possible to make sure your voice is heard in the General Election.

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