All registered Georgia voters are eligible to vote by mail if they choose, and in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state and county elections offices are preparing to handle larger than usual volumes of absentee ballots.
Voters can request an absentee ballot by filling out an application beginning 180 days before the election, so the request process for Nov. 3 has already started. The last day for a voter to request an absentee ballot, and the last day for the elections office to mail out absentee ballots, is Friday, Oct. 30 by 5 p.m.
Voters can request an absentee ballot online using a website set up by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office at securevotega.com. Using that website keeps the absentee ballot process entirely online for the voter.
Voters can call Hall County’s elections office at 770-531-6945 or email email@example.com to request a ballot. The county has also posted an absentee ballot application on its elections website.
Hall County Elections Director Lori Wurtz said the county had received more than 17,000 absentee ballot applications as of Wednesday, Sept. 9. She said she recommends voters send in their applications early and monitor the status of their application through the My Voter Page on the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office website.
Wurtz said the estimated wait time between submitting an absentee ballot application and receiving the ballot is five to seven days. The state has hired a vendor to process applications, although counties will take over toward the end of early voting, she said.
Sept. 15 is the first day elections offices can send out ballots, so voters should not expect to receive their ballots before that date.
Some voters, including those who are 65 or older, disabled, in the military or overseas, have had the option to indicate on previous absentee ballot applications that they would like to automatically be sent absentee ballots for the elections cycle, which runs through a possible runoff in January 2021. Wurtz said those absentee ballots will be among the first to be mailed out. Other voters, who have not selected this option on a previous absentee ballot application, will need to submit another application.
Completed absentee ballot applications can be submitted several ways:
- Mail to Hall County Elections, PO Box 1435, Gainesville, GA 30503
- Fax to 770-531-3931
- Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Place in the drop box outside the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville
Under state law, a family member can request a ballot on behalf of a voter who is or will be on Election Day out of the county or municipality.
How to turn in an absentee ballot
Completed ballots must be turned in by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3, to be counted. They can be mailed to the elections office, turned in at the elections office or an early voting location, or placed in the drop box outside the government center.
Early voting will run from Oct. 12 to Oct. 30, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Voters can also go from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24. The county has announced seven locations for early voting and is working to secure an eighth location:
- Mulberry Creek Community Center
- East Hall Community Center
- North Hall Community Center
- 100 Brenau Ave. in Gainesville, previous Turner, Wood & Smith building and temporary library branch
- Murrayville branch of the Hall County Library System
- Spout Springs branch of the Hall County Library System
- Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center activities hall
Poll workers at these sites will be prepared to accept completed absentee ballots. Wurtz said the county considered setting up additional drop boxes for absentee ballots, but the boxes needed are on backorder and would not have arrived in Hall until the end of the early voting period.
If someone decides to vote in-person instead of use their absentee ballot, poll workers can also help them cancel their absentee ballot.
Sometimes, voters request an absentee ballot as a backup plan in case they are unable to make it to the polls on Election Day, Wurtz said. But if a voter has already cast their absentee ballot, then goes to the polls to the vote, whichever vote is received first is the one counted, she said.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Tuesday, Sept. 8 that about 1,000 Georgians had voted twice in the June primary by voting with an absentee ballot and in-person. Wurtz said Wednesday none of the voters were from Hall.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.