Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has announced all 6.9 million of Georgia’s active voters will be mailed an absentee ballot request form for the May 19 primary election. 

The decision was made last week to encourage voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic as a way to reinforce social distancing guidelines set by health officials. The safety of voters and poll workers was also a major factor. However, early voting and Election Day precincts will remain open for those without internet or mail access, those needing language assistance or individuals with disabilities.

 “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,” said Raffensperger. “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.”

While the state has allowed any voter to cast their ballot by mail since 2005, just seven percent of voters did so in the 2018 election for governor. A large number of people voting by mail would make a significant change in the way elections are run in Georgia.

Due to the postponement of the previously scheduled March 24 presidential primary, those who have already received ballots still have time to turn them into the Elections Office at 1520 Third Street Suite C, Folkston, GA 31537

Supervisor of Elections, Brenda Hodges said, “Normally, the deadline is election day, but since the election was postponed, voters can still continue to return their ballots and are encouraged to do so.”

Voters will still be required to return the absentee request forms before actual ballot will be sent. After voters receive the ballot request forms, the recipient will choose which party will have their vote. Once the forms are signed, the ballot is to be placed in the included envelope, stamped, and mailed. 

The Charlton County Elections Offices will also accept absentee ballot applications by email and fax at bhodges@charltoncountyga.gov or 912-496-2608.

Once the application is received, officials will mail the appropriate ballot to the voter. Each ballot will be counted if received by the Elections Offices at 7:00 p.m. on May 19. 

Before the presidential primary was postponed, about 275,000 voters cast ballots during early voting. Those ballots will still be counted.  Voters who already participated in the presidential primary will receive ballots with other races during the May 19 election. Voters who haven’t yet participated in the presidential primary will receive ballots that include both presidential candidates and other candidates.

“We want to reassure everyone who voted early and absentee for the March 24 election these votes will be counted,” stated Hodges.

Election personnel are asking everyone who will to fill out the application to downsize the amount of in-person voters.

Hodges shared, “We pray it will all be over by then, but we just don’t know.”