Early voting starts Monday amid coronavirus: What you need to know

Sheri and James Marshall sanitize their hands after voting at the Marietta polling station during Saturday’s early voting on March 14, 2020. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Sheri and James Marshall sanitize their hands after voting at the Marietta polling station during Saturday’s early voting on March 14, 2020. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

Voting while social distancing starts Monday with the first day of in-person early voting for Georgia’s primary.

Voters will stand 6 feet apart. They'll use hand sanitizer when checking in. In some counties, they'll tap a touchscreen with a stylus instead of a finger.

More than 1.3 million voters have requested absentee ballots during the coronavirus pandemic, but state law requires three weeks of in-person early voting before the June 9 election.

Fewer early voting locations will be available, but several will remain open: five in Cobb County, eight in DeKalb County, five in Fulton County and six in Gwinnett County.

"If you choose to vote in person, please continue to practice social distancing and stay home if you are sick," said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who mailed absentee ballot request forms to the state's 6.9 million active voters.

Each polling place in Georgia will have hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies.

Poll workers in some counties will ask voters to wait in their cars for a text telling them it’s their turn to vote. Officials will wear gloves, and they’ll frequently wipe down touchscreens. Voting booths will be spread out.

» EARLY VOTING  GUIDES:  Cobb  |  DeKalb  |  FultonGwinnett

With so many people voting by mail, election officials said in-person turnout might be lower because voters want to avoid human contact.

So far, more than 212,000 voters have returned absentee ballots for the combined general primary and presidential primary. By comparison, about 37,000 people cast absentee-by-mail ballots in the 2016 primary.

Before the March 24 presidential primary was delayed because of the coronavirus threat, nearly 289,000 voters cast ballots. Those voters are still eligible to participate in the primary, but their ballots will exclude the presidential race.

The primary might be the largest test yet of Georgia's new $104 million voting system, which combines familiar touchscreens with the addition of printed-out paper ballots. Voters will be able to check their ballots before inserting them into scanners attached to locked ballot boxes.

Voters can find their voting locations, review sample ballots and request absentee ballots on the state's My Voter Page at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.

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