More absentee ballots already cast in Georgia than in all 2016

August 11, 2020 Atlanta: Stickers await voters on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at Park Tavern located at 500 10th St NE in Atlanta. A heated race for Fulton County district attorney saw a light turnout at the polls on Tuesday, August 11, 2020. Incumbent Paul Howard faces his former chief deputy, Fani Willis, in a closely watched contest to become the countyÕs top prosecutor. Election officials said they learned lessons from the June 9 primary to avoid the kind of extreme lines that some voters encountered last time. Poll workers have been retrained. Technicians were on hand at every voting location in Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties. Voting machines were delivered well in advance of election day. Still, some voters experienced problems and long waits at the polls. Nearly 377,000 Georgians already voted in advance of election day, most of them casting absentee ballots. About 60% of early votes were absentee; the rest were cast in person during three weeks of early voting. With so many voters using absentee ballots, election results might be slow to come in Tuesday night. Absentee ballots will be counted if theyÕre received by county election officials before 7 p.m., but each ballot has to be fed through a scanner to be counted, a process that can take days. Election officials say itÕs normal for absentee vote-counting to take some time. But that means close races might not be settled on election night. The winners of TuesdayÕs runoffs will advance to the general election in November, when turnout is expected to break records and exceed 5 million voters. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Votes are pouring in across Georgia, with over 262,000 absentee ballots returned to county election offices four weeks before Election Day.

The number of absentee votes so far is already higher than the total cast in the 2016 presidential election, when 202,500 voters mailed in ballots.

In all, nearly 1.5 million Georgia voters have requested absentee ballots, according to data from the secretary of state’s office.

High interest in absentee voting puts Georgia on track for a record-breaking presidential election, with total turnout estimated to reach 5 million. About one-third of all voters are projected to cast absentee ballots, with the rest voting in person during early voting that starts Monday or on Election Day on Nov. 3.

Absentee voting gained popularity this year as a way to participate in the election remotely, without having to visit in-person polling places during the coronavirus pandemic.

ExploreHow to vote by mail in Georgia’s general election

About 40% of voters who have requested absentee ballots for the general election didn’t participate in the June 9 primary. Of those who did cast ballots in the primary, 60% used Democratic Party ballots and 38% voted Republican. The remaining 2% pulled nonpartisan ballots.

There is also a significant number of new Georgia voters who requested absentee ballots. About 13% of those who have requested absentee ballots first registered to vote after 2016.

All registered voters are eligible to request and cast absentee ballots, and there’s still time to do so before the election. Voters can order an absentee ballot online at ballotrequest.sos.ga.gov, or they can fill out and return a paper form from the secretary of state’s website.

Absentee ballots will be counted if they’re received by county election offices by 7 p.m. on Election Day, according to a recent court ruling. Voters can return absentee ballots by mail, in person at county election offices or at drop boxes set up across the state.

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