Absentee ballots arriving in Georgia voters’ mailboxes now come with just one return envelope instead of two.
State election officials eliminated the inner envelope, which secured ballots in another layer of packaging. The inner envelope has been replaced with a white folded piece of paper that says, “Official absentee ballot. Ballot must be enclosed.”
The secretary of state's office confirmed the change Monday — after voters began receiving absentee ballots last week.
With just one envelope to open, county election officials will be able to process ballots more quickly, said Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs.
Record numbers of Georgia voters are expected to mail their ballots for the June 9 primary after Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger sent absentee ballot request forms to the state's 6.9 million active voters. More than 825,000 people had returned their absentee ballot requests through Sunday.
“This year, there is a return envelope, privacy sleeve and a ballot,” Fuchs said. “This is due to the requirements of the mail vendor that the state procured to take the time and expense of packaging and mailing off of our hard-working county election officials. It has the added benefit of helping to speed up the tabulation process.”
Instructions that accompany absentee ballots incorrectly tell voters to enclose their ballots in a white envelope. Ballots will be counted as long as they’re received by county election officials before polls close at 7 p.m. on election day.
The secretary of state’s office is considering allowing county election officials to begin opening and scanning ballots before election day, helping them manage the heavy load of mailed ballots, Fuchs said. Absentee ballots wouldn’t be tabulated until election day.