Raffensperger, a Republican, and the Democratic Party of Georgia agreed earlier this month to delay the presidential primary from March 24 to the date of the previously scheduled general primary on May 19. Voters will choose candidates for president, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House and the Georgia General Assembly in the combined primary.
Because it’s unclear how long the health risk of the coronavirus will last, Ralston said no election should be held until the summer.
Legislation might be needed to delay the election again. Under state law, the secretary of state can’t postpone an election more than 45 days during an emergency. The presidential primary would be delayed nearly that long before early voting resumes April 27.
The plan to ramp up absentee voting will be a significant change in Georgia’s elections. Just 6% of people mailed in their ballots during the 2018 general election, and all other voters cast their ballots either at in-person early-voting locations or at their local precincts on election day.
It’s unclear whether absentee voting favors one political party or another. Georgia has allowed no-excuse absentee voting since 2005, with any voter allowed to vote by mail.
Before this year’s presidential primary was delayed, about 55% of absentee voters cast Democratic Party ballots, which listed 12 candidates. Only President Donald Trump was listed on Republican Party ballots.
More Republican than Democratic voters, about 52%, mailed in ballots in 2018’s general primary.
When both parties had competitive presidential primaries in 2016, Republican Party voters outpaced Democrats, submitting 67% of absentee ballots.