Election Board OKs Continued Use Of Absentee Drop Boxes, Early Processing Of Ballots
The Georgia State Election Board Wednesday voted to extend a pair of emergency rules that make it easier for some voters to cast absentee ballots and for counties to process them.
One emergency rule passed mid-April allowed Georgia counties to set up secure 24/7 drop boxes for voters to return absentee ballots without relying on the mail system or needing to vote in person for the June 9 primary.
Several counties opted to purchase and use drop boxes as part of an overall shift to more absentee-by-mail voting in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
The amendment passed Wednesday removes language limiting drop boxes to the June primary election and added additional requirements for opening and closing the drop boxes and when county officials had to empty them out.
A second amendment allows counties to continue to begin processing absentee ballots before Election Day, as a record 1.1 million people voted absentee for the primary and twice that is expected in November.
Here's a proposed amendment to emergency rules for Wednesday's Georgia State Election Board meeting that looks to extend the use of absentee drop boxes. #gapol pic.twitter.com/4jo05ga9v9— stephen fowler (@stphnfwlr) June 30, 2020
The State Election Board also voted to require counties to post the dates and times they will be processing absentee ballots more prominently on the secretary of state’s website and on the local county’s site.
Georgia’s election administration process is under heightened scrutiny after the June election date saw inexperienced poll workers have difficulties with a new voting system, fewer places to vote because of COVID-19 and long lines in predominantly Black communities.
In the months leading up to the election, GPB News and the Georgia News Lab reported on these likely issues after speaking with election supervisors across the state, and found many were struggling to keep up with the influx of absentee ballots pouring in as voters took advantage of the application state officials mailed to 6.9 million people.
Both rules would need to go through the regular rulemaking process to become permanent.