Ga. Sec. of State answers questions on absentee voting

Ga. Sec. of State answers questions on absentee voting
Brad Raffensperger, Georgia Secretary of State (Source: WALB)

ATLANTA, GA (WALB) - The secretary of state’s office said at a Thursday news conference there has been a large increase in the number of people requesting absentee ballots compared to the usual election, demonstrating support for his strategy of safeguarding voters and poll workers while reducing pressure on polling places.

“This is unprecedented," Brad Raffensperger, secretary of state, said. “We’ve passed the million mark in absentee ballot application requests, and 650,000 have already been placed in the mail for voters.”

Raffensperger said their goals are to keep voters safe and take the pressure off in-person voting locations for the election which is still set for June 9. There are 39 days of absentee voting left.

As for a secure dropBox for that election, Raffensperger said that “we will see how it goes."

“I can see this having a place in the future,” he added. "It’s been 5 percent for so many years, maybe now it goes up to 10 percent when things get back to normal.”

Below are more questions and answers about absentee ballots from Raffensperger:

State law requires there to be two envelopes in the mailing package, but one of the envelopes has been replaced with a sleeve. Is that compliant with state law?

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger at a conference of local election officials in Savannah.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger at a conference of local election officials in Savannah. (Source: AP Photo/Russ Bynum/AP)

“There was a miscommunication with the vendor’s office. It does comply if you tape the sleeve together, it becomes an envelope. It was a miscommunication but that’s where we are today.”

Do you intend to change the sleeve to an envelope?

“We are too far in the process for this election, but we will definitely be doing that for the runoff election in August.”

Will there be instructions on how to tape the sleeve?

“Yes, it will be posted on our website and sent to the county election officials.”

Will absentee votes be counted earlier on election day since there are so many?

“Ballots are allowed to be counted on Election Day, they just need to be sequestered. We will look at the count we have from each county and make sure we can get those results in a timely basis, and decide if we need to go ahead with emergency rules with the state election board and that’s being considered right now, so we’re not waiting a week and a half to get the results. No answer just yet, but they are actively looking at this to ensure the security and privacy of the ballots, but that it’s also efficient.”

Is your office issuing guidance on how counties should handle in-person voting? What does that guidance look like?

“We will issue guidance and also have 33,000 reusable masks flesh-colored and black, sanitizers, and wipes we’ll be sending out to the counties. Just announced is a federal grant program up to $1.5-$1.6 million that we’ll be pushing out to the counties to help defray the costs.”

Here are Raffensperger’s summarized comments on the Wall Street Journal on voter roll maintenance:

“Been stopped from clearing up the rolls because of the lawsuits. I want to make sure voter rolls are clean and accurate. We’re excited about joining ERIC (Electronic Registration Information Center) which will help with tracking and updating voter rolls using objective removal and not subjective removal. We want a strong, robust, accurate, secure absentee ballot program so both sides of the aisle feel that no one’s rights have been diminished.”

You mentioned (in the WSJ article) the Democrats had stopped you from removing people from the roll?

“Yes those have been activists lawsuits and they’ve been driven by.”

But have they succeeded (the lawsuits)?

“Yeah many of them have over the last few years and they’ve tied our hands. That’s just where we are, and we will continue to work within the constraints of the law that we have,” Raffensperger said.

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