Georgia voters urged to use drop boxes, avoid mail delays

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger leaves after he spoke to members of the press on election updates Tuesday at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger leaves after he spoke to members of the press on election updates Tuesday at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Think twice before dropping your absentee ballot in the mail.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger encouraged voters to return their absentee ballots in drop boxes or at county election offices to ensure their ballots are counted. State law requires absentee ballots to be received at election offices by 7 p.m. Nov. 3.

“There is simply a risk at this point in having the United States Postal Service deliver your vote on time,” Raffensperger said Tuesday during a press conference at the state Capitol. “Your best option is to vote your ballot and deliver it to one of the county election drop boxes.”

ExploreWhere are absentee ballot drop boxes in metro Atlanta?

About 500,000 Georgia voters who requested absentee ballots hadn’t yet returned them Tuesday. An additional 1 million absentee ballots had already been delivered to county election offices, and 2 million more ballots had been cast at in-person early voting locations.

Georgians should make a plan to ensure their votes count in this record-breaking election, Raffensperger said. Turnout could reach 6 million voters, smashing the previous high of 4.1 million in the 2016 election.

Early voting is available through Friday, which election officials predict will be the busiest day yet with the potential of 400,000 voters and long lines. About 2,650 neighborhood polling places will be open across Georgia on Election Day on Tuesday.

The Postal Service has recommended that absentee ballots be put in the mail by Tuesday — a week before Election Day — but Raffensperger said it’s safer to avoid the possibility of late mail deliveries.

Absentee ballots delivered after polls close on Election Day won’t be counted. During this summer’s primary, over 8,400 ballots were rejected because they were returned late.

“Your voter plan needs to be what is best for you,” Raffensperger said. “Follow through to make sure your vote counts.”

Voters who requested absentee ballots can later decide to instead vote in person.

For voters who didn’t receive their absentee ballots, they have to sign a form at a polling place to cancel the absentee ballot before they’ll be allowed to vote in person. The process will move faster for voters who bring their absentee ballots and envelopes with them.

How to ensure your vote counts

Make a plan to vote early, by absentee or on Election Day.

Check your voter registration information and find your polling place on the state’s My Voter Page at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.

Absentee ballots must be received at county election offices by 7 p.m. on Nov. 3. Voters can return absentee ballots at drop boxes or in person at county election offices.

In-person early voters in metro Atlanta can check wait times online before going to the polls. Websites for Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties provide wait-time estimates.

Avoid voting during the busiest times of day, typically when polls open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and from 5 p.m. until polls close at 7 p.m.

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