By Dave Williams
Capitol Beat News Service
ATLANTA – Georgians can request an absentee ballot for the November election by going online to a website Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office launched Friday.
Located at ballotrequest.sos.ga.gov, the website allows users to request that an absentee ballot be mailed to them, which they can then return by mail or place in one of the drop-off boxes that were installed across the state ahead of the June primaries.
With the coronavirus pandemic raging, Georgians voted by mail in record numbers in June and are expected to do so again in November. Many of those who waited to vote in person in June were forced to wait in long, socially distanced lines that in some cases took hours.
In Forsyth County, 55.6% of the 49,172 total ballots cast in June were by absentee, and the process of counting those took nearly two weeks as the county experienced a shortage of poll workers because of the pandemic.
Forsyth County recently approved $400,000 to help supply and staff six additional advance voting locations to encourage more residents to vote in person in November's election.
Raffensperger’s office sent request forms for absentee ballots to every registered voter in Georgia ahead of the primaries. But he decided not to do that ahead of the November election after fellow Republicans, including House Speaker David Ralston, complained the practice could encourage fraud.
The secretary of state responded by developing the website to make it easy for Georgians who want to vote through the mail to request an absentee ballot.
The agency also expects to realize huge savings by using the website rather than paying the postage to mail absentee ballot request forms to about 7 million registered voters.
When a voter clicks on the website, he or she is prompted to supply personal data including name, date of birth and home county. The data then goes to the appropriate county elections office, which sends out the absentee ballot.
The new system has been put through several weeks of testing by cybersecurity experts working with the secretary of state’s office.
Voters who wish to cast absentee ballots are being asked not to procrastinate. The U.S. Postal Service is asking voters to allow 15 days for delivery each way.
The voter registration deadline is Oct. 5. Voters can check their registration status online at mvp.sos.ga.gov.
Forsyth County News editor Brian Paglia contributed to this story.