Georgia launches new online portal to request absentee ballots

Georgia launches new online portal to request absentee ballots

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Wednesday marks two months until the presidential election.

Georgia was recently under the microscope for a legal battle on its absentee voting policies. This week, a federal judge ordered the state to extend the time for when voters can return their absentee ballots.

There’s also a new process in the works to request those ballots. In the past, Georgia voters had to download and print an absentee ballot request, then scan and email it or put it in the mail. Thanks to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffenssperger, there’s a new online portal that can make the process easier.

While some people are comfortable voting in-person in the November elections, others may still be social distancing. Communications Director Pam Kirkland with the Columbus Health Department said contactless voting is ideal for people with underlying health conditions and the elderly during the coronavirus pandemic.

“If anybody just feels uncomfortable about going and voting, it’s a good idea as well. It’s really a good idea, I think, for anybody who is elderly or who has some other health conditions to go ahead and take advantage of that,” said Kirkland.

Now, Georgia voters can request their ballot through the portal using their first and last name, date of birth, county where they are registered, and Georgia State ID or Georgia Driver’s License number.

For people who are wanting to vote in-person, Muscogee County election specialist, Jeanette James, said Muscogee County voting precincts will be prepared to keep everyone safe while voting.

“We have the shields up at the voting stations. As soon as person uses a pen, we wipe the pen. As soon as someone uses the machine, we wipe the machine off. We’re doing everything that we can to make sure that the voters are safe,” said James.

If you don’t want to complete an absentee ballot and are still social distancing, another option is early in-person voting. The City Services Center in Columbus will be open for this option October 12 through October 30. The Columbus Convention and Trade Center will be open for this option October 26 through 30.

Absentee ballots requested for the Nov. 2020 presidential election cannot be sent out before Sept. 15, but ballots can be counted up to three days after the election, as long as they’re postmarked for Nov. 3. You also want to make sure to check your voter registration status if you’ve moved or haven’t voted recently to make sure it’s active and up to date.

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