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Ballot form is useless if unsigned
GOP mailer confusing some
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Forsyth County News
At a glance
Forsyth County residents registered to vote on or before Oct. 6 can vote in the runoff election, even if they didn't vote during the presidential election Nov. 4.

* In-person absentee voting
Begins Monday and runs from 8 a.m. to  4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday through Nov. 21. It can be done only at the Office of Voter Registration and Elections, 110 East Main St. in Cumming.

* Early voting Nov. 24-26
The following locations will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.:
-- Cumming Public Library, 585 Dahlonega Highway
-- Sharon Forks Public Library, 2820 Old Atlanta Road
-- Forsyth County Public Safety Complex, 3520 Settingdown Road
-- Midway Park, 5100 Post Road

In addition, the Office of Voter Registration and Elections, 110 East Main St., will be open from 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

* Dec. 2
All 33 precincts will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

* Contact
For more information, contact (770) 781- 2118 or go online at

* Voter IDs
One of six valid state or federal government-issued photo identification cards is required to vote in person, regardless of whether during early voting or on Dec. 2.
Accepted IDs include a Georgia driver's license (even if expired), valid U.S. passport, government- issued employee, military or tribal identification cards, or a valid Georgia voter ID card will be accepted for in-person voters.
Absentee ballots sent by mail do not require photo identification verification. A valid photo ID is also not required to register to vote.

A request for an absentee ballot could lead to an absent vote if Republican voters don't follow directions carefully.

Forsyth Board of Elections Chairman Gary J. Smith said he has received more than 600 copies of a mailer, sent and paid for by the Georgia Republican Party.

The mailer is a request for a paper absentee ballot, which voters can fill out and send to the elections office to receive a ballot.

Gov. Sonny Perdue's signature is on the form, following a note to voters encouraging them to vote from home.

It's not an uncommon tactic, but the mailer calls for a signature from applicants, a small detail Smith said has resulted in a large number of incomplete requests.

The signature line is at the bottom of the application and part of the optional section to include an address different from the applicant's home address. It could be misinterpreted as a requirement only if the address differs.

"The problem is they're not signing them and we can't accept them unless they are signed, because we have to match their signature to the one on file in their voter registration card," Smith said. "I'm required by law to do that."

Smith said more than half, or about 350 of the 600 requests received, did not include a signature.

During a standard election, this might not be a problem. Because a runoff election happens so quickly, however, time is running short for applicants to correct the oversight.

Smith said there is the option to send letters back to the applicants, but he's been doing his best to call voters on the phone. If they don't answer on the first try, he'll send a letter.

Regardless of how, communication will be made with the voter within 48 hours of receiving the application.

The problem with mailing letters, Smith said, is time.

"When they receive it, they've got to send it back to us, and then what we do is send them back a ballot," he said. "Then they've got to send the ballot back to us and then we're almost out of time.

"There are not a lot of days left in this election cycle."

In fact, no paper absentee ballots, military and/or overseas, will be accepted after 4:30 p.m. Nov. 26. Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, no in-person or early voting will take place after that either.

There are options for those who sent their application in without a signature.

While voters who filled their application correctly will receive their ballots via mail, anyone who didn't sign the form can fill out a new one at the elections office.

But with only a week left until the deadline, Smith said the safest bet is to vote in person, either during early voting or on Dec. 2.

Anyone who sent an application in can verify its status with the elections office.