The money comes from $2 trillion — including $400 million for elections — for coronavirus relief that was approved by Congress on March 26 and signed by President Donald Trump the next day. Georgia's share of the federal money must be matched by $2.1 million in state funds, bringing its total election relief amount to about $13 million.
The secretary of state's office has already spent millions of dollars to encourage remote voting in the June 9 primary, sending absentee ballot request forms to Georgia's 6.9 million active voters. That program costs over $3 million, plus between $1.88 and $2.38 per absentee ballot mailed, depending on the size of each ballot.
The State Election Board voted this month to allow counties to buy drop boxes where voters can turn in their completed absentee ballots instead of mailing them. Counties that purchase drop boxes, which must be monitored by video and located on government property, will be able to request reimbursement using the federal relief funds.
The Democratic Party of Georgia recently sent information to the state’s 159 counties urging them to buy drop boxes, which will give voters more options to ensure their votes are counted.
Drop boxes cost as little as $50 for small wood collection boxes and over $760 for large weather-proof boxes that look like U.S. Postal Service mailboxes, according to the Democratic Party. Security cameras cost about $40.
“Hopefully Georgia voters will have this extra option that will protect their health and safety,” said Saira Draper, voter protection director for the Democratic Party of Georgia.