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Georgia to make absentee voting easier during COVID-19

Every Georgia voter will receive an absentee ballot request form in the mail ahead of the May 19 primaries, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Tuesday.

The unprecedented step will reinforce the social distancing public health officials are recommending in the midst of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

“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. “Georgia has faced challenges before and overcome them, and we can do so again.”

Raffensperger already has postponed Georgia’s presidential primary, which was to have been held Tuesday, until May 19, when it will take place in conjunction with primaries for congressional, legislative and county offices.

Only 5 percent of Georgia voters cast their ballots by mail during the November elections in 2018 and 2016. But with COVID-19 raging, a much higher percentage of voters likely will vote absentee this spring.

Decatur County Chief Elections Official Carol Heard said voting by mail has been just one way of voting in Georgia, and with the current health crisis, this way of voting from home makes it very convenient and safe.

Once you receive your application, please be sure to mark which political party ballot you would like to receive for the Presidential Preference Primary (if you haven’t voted in it yet), the General Primary and the Runoff.  If you have voted in the Presidential Preference Primary, please pick which political party you would like for the General Primary and its Runoff.

If you are 65 years old or older, or disabled, you may mark your application so you can receive a ballot for each election in the 2020 cycle, including a ballot for the Nov. 3rd General Election and the Jan. 5, 2021 Federal Runoff.  The same is true for UOCAVA voters.

It’s very important to sign your application. Your signature–not necessary if you signed with your middle name, etc., or not–should match the signature on your original voter registration form. When returning your ballot, again remember to sign the yellow “oath” envelope. Your signature is how we best determine if you are in fact the voter the ballot was sent to. If there is a problem with a missing or non-matched signature, your ballot becomes a provisional ballot and you will receive an affidavit to try to correct the issue with your signature.

The Decatur County Elections Office may receive your application via email, elections@decaturcountyga.gov; fax, (229) 248-3743; or mail, P.O. Box 7428, Bainbridge, GA 39818. If you have already submitted an application for a ballot and you are 65 years old or older or disable, you should automatically receive a ballot from the state in this election.