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Elections office hits goal of 13,000 early votes cast

As election day drew closer, the Polk County Office of Elections and Registration celebrated for just a little at the close of early voting on Friday.

With a goal to have 13,000 voters cast their ballot before Nov. 3, county Election Coordinator Brande Coggins reported Friday evening that 13,510 votes had been processed through their office, either by in-person voting or by absentee.

That comes out to roughly 53% of the total number of registered voters in Polk County eligible to vote in the 2020 general election and less than 1,000 votes away from the total number of votes in Polk County in the 2016 general election.

Polk County’s early voting tally for this election was a 37% increase from the 2016 general election, which saw 9,747 votes cast both in-person and absentee.

More than 3.8 million people cast ballots in Georgia by the close of the three-week early voting period, marking roughly half the state’s total registered voters and nearly eclipsing the entire vote count of the 2016 election.

Coggins reported that they had very few technical issues during the early voting period, and lines were at a minimum, with voters coming in and able to swiftly go through the voting process.

Around 2.6 Georgians turned out to vote in-person for early voting from Oct. 12 through Oct. 30, according to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office. Another roughly 1.2 million had cast absentee ballots through Friday, with more mail-in votes expected to arrive before Election Day.

The 2016 presidential election drew around 4.1 million votes in Georgia. The enormous early turnout numbers in Georgia reflected safety concerns about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, long lines seen during the June 9 primaries and mistrust in the integrity of the election ahead of one of the most consequential elections for Georgia in decades.

Polk County election officials said they were still planning to give people who have received an absentee ballot but not returned it the option to fill it out at their polling place and put it in a secure drop box instead of having them wait to have it canceled and then get in line and wait to vote in person.

Polk County Elections Director Lee Ann Georgia said having that option would cut down on long lines at the polls on election day, something her and her team worked on leading up to this election.