Groups may send prefilled absentee ballot applications in Georgia upon request

Credit: Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Court stipulation allows voting groups to provide absentee materials

Voting organizations are allowed to send partially filled-out absentee ballot application forms to Georgia voters who go online to request them, according to a document filed in federal court Monday.

The filing resolves part of a lawsuit over Georgia’s voting law passed last year that prohibits organizations and governments from mailing multiple absentee ballot applications to voters.

The law remains in place, but plaintiffs and the state of Georgia agreed that organizations can create a partially completed absentee ballot application and email it to voters after they enter their information into an online form.

ExploreHow Georgia’s voting law works

VoteAmerica, which provides an absentee ballot application tool on its website, withdrew from the lawsuit as a result of the stipulation permitting them to continue sending absentee application materials to voters upon request.

“This is a victory for Georgia voters and for VoteAmerica, even as we keep fighting in the courts for groups still negatively impacted by SB 202,” said Danielle Lang, an attorney for the Campaign Legal Center, which represents the plaintiffs. “The collective work of these organizations to assist voters and strengthen our democracy should be commended instead of being called into question or halted by frivolous, anti-voter laws.”

Voters can also fill out an absentee ballot request form through a website created by the secretary of state’s office at securemyabsenteeballot.sos.ga.gov, but they still have to print, sign and return the form.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said VoteAmerica’s suit against Georgia’s voting law lacked merit.

“Despite the overheated rhetoric ... Georgia’s Election Integrity Act contains commonsense reforms like photo ID for all forms of voting,” Raffensperger said. “I commend VoteAmerica for recognizing that their initial claims weren’t supported by the facts, and that it would be a waste of taxpayer resources to continue them.”

A federal judge previously upheld Georgia’s restrictions on sending repeated absentee ballot request forms after voters were flooded with solicitations before the 2020 election year. Some voters complained that they kept receiving mailed absentee ballot application forms even after they had already requested a ballot.

Under the law, organizations face a $100 fine for each duplicate absentee ballot application processed by county election offices. The voting law also bans state and local governments from mailing unsolicited absentee ballot applications to voters.

Almost all of the voting law remains in place for this year’s election following court rulings that upheld prohibitions on distributing food and drinks to voters waiting in line, as well as a requirement that voters request absentee ballots at least 11 days before Election Day. But a judge struck down part of the law’s broad ban on photographing voted ballots outside of polling places.