Voters wear masks and cast their ballots at least six feet apart the first day of early voting at the Cobb County Board of Elections & Registration on Monday afternoon, May 18, 2020, in Marietta. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Polls open for Saturday voting, but Georgians urged to vote from home

Voting locations opened across Georgia on Saturday for voters who want to go to the polls in person even during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Saturday voting day in advance of the June 9 primary gives voters a weekend option to participate in the election, though officials are encouraging voters to fill out absentee ballots from the safety of their homes.

More Georgians have voted absentee ballots so far, but in-person turnout has been higher than most primaries at this point in recent years.

Over 684,000 people had returned absentee ballots through Friday, and 134,200 voted in person during two weeks of early voting. One week of early voting remains before election day.

Saturday voting locations are open in every county. There are a total of 15 Saturday voting sites in Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties.

In-person voters should prepare for lines.

Voters will be spaced 6 feet apart, and limited numbers of people will be allowed inside at a time because of social distancing requirements. Poll workers will frequently wipe down election equipment, and voters will be provided styluses so they don’t have to use their fingers on touchscreens.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asked voters to complete absentee ballots, then return them by mail or in drop boxes. The more people who vote absentee, the fewer people will be at risk of catching the coronavirus.

“My goal since the COVID crisis began is to do everything I can to ensure we have an election that has worked. That is why we stood up the absentee ballot program, but we still need the voters’ help,” Raffensperger said Thursday. “We need as many of you as possible to use this safe and easy voting tool.”

Absentee ballots must be received at county election offices or drop boxes before polls close at 7 p.m. on June 9. Otherwise, they won’t be counted.

Voters who requested absentee ballots but haven’t returned them will face longer waits if they instead decide to vote in person. Those voters will first have to fill out paperwork with an election worker to cancel their absentee ballots before they can vote in person.

Georgia’s primary includes candidates for president, Congress, the Georgia General Assembly, judges, county commissioners, sheriffs and more. The time it takes to fill out such a long ballot could also hold up early voting.

Voters can find their early voting locations, election day precincts, sample ballots and absentee ballot status on the state’s My Voter Page at https://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/.

There’s also still time to request an absentee ballot and return it at a drop box or county elections office. Absentee ballot request forms can be downloaded at https://sos.ga.gov/index.php/Elections/absentee_voting_in_georgia.

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