Secretary of State Brian Kemp has said that he is committed to safe and secure elections for Georgia citizens living here and abroad. A spokesman for Kemp's office said Thursday evening that the agency had received the order, but did not immediately have a comment on the ruling.
The state has argued that making changes now "would place unnecessary stresses on the elections administrations process," but the judge said any burden is outweighed by potential injury to overseas voters.
"The potential hardships that Georgia might experience are minor when balanced against the right to vote, a right that is essential to an effective democracy," Jones wrote in his order.
The order extends the deadline for receipt of absentee ballots by one week to Aug. 31 and orders the secretary of state's office to send absentee ballots to any eligible overseas voter who requests one by express mail. Those voters would be allowed to return their ballot either by e-mail, fax, or express mail at no cost to them.