Georgians encouraged to vote in-person rather than by mail in runoff

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Quick runoff for U.S. Senate leaves little time for mail voting

Election officials and voting groups are urging most Georgia voters to go to the polls instead of returning ballots by mail in the U.S. Senate runoff.

Absentee ballots must be received by county election offices before polls close on election day Dec. 6, leaving little time to request and return them through the mail at this point. But voters who receive their absentee ballots soon still have enough time to send them back.

“We are not encouraging absentee voting for those who have other options,” Cobb County Elections Director Janine Eveler said.

In-person early voting is available in most metro Atlanta counties on Saturday and Sunday, and polling places will be open statewide Monday through Friday next week. Ballot drop boxes are available until Friday, Dec. 2.

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“We have asked voters to request and return absentee ballots immediately,” DeKalb County elections spokesman Erik Burton said.

The compressed time before the runoffs this year — four weeks after the initial election instead of the nine-week gap in prior years — meant that county election offices didn’t begin mailing ballots until late last week or early this week.

Over 207,000 Georgia voters have requested absentee ballots, according to state election data. About 150,000 of them are elderly, disabled or overseas voters who requested earlier in the year to automatically receive absentee ballots for the rest of this election cycle. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Monday.

“When you’re with your family and friends this Thanksgiving, remind everyone to make a plan of how they’ll cast a ballot in the U.S. Senate race,” said Aunna Dennis, executive director for Common Cause Georgia. “These close races come down to 1% margins, and you could be the 1% that moves Georgia forward.”

In Fulton and Gwinnett counties, election officials advised voters to make a plan for how they want to vote, and to be aware of the state’s deadlines for absentee ballots.

Anyone who already requested an absentee ballot can decide to vote in person instead. When those voters show up at a polling place, election workers can cancel their absentee ballots and allow them to cast in-person ballots.

Voters can find early and election day polling places and hours through the state’s My Voter Page at mvp.sos.ga.gov.