Election 2020

Georgians who have not yet voted for the Nov. 3 election need to plan ahead for long lines in the final days of early voting as well as on Election Day, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Wednesday.

Anyone still planning to vote by mail also needs to hand in their absentee ballot at a county elections office or in a local drop box, rather than trust their vote to the over-stressed U.S. postal system, Raffensperger added.

With the early-voting period set to run through Friday, Georgians have already cast more than double the number of early and mail-in ballots for this 2020 presidential election than were cast in the 2016 election. So far, more than 3.2 million Georgians have voted early and by mail, Raffensperger said.

The secretary of state’s office now expects around 5.5 million Georgians to vote in the Nov. 3 election, vastly more than the 4.1 million votes tallied in 2016.

“Our election is functioning well because voters have information,” Raffensperger said at a news conference Wednesday. “They have access to the ballot box, and they have the will to exercise their voices. Your vote counts.”

Raffensperger delivered remarks from State Farm Arena in Atlanta where voters so far have cast roughly 33,500 ballots, marking the state’s largest early-voting precinct and what Raffensperger called “a showcase of democracy.”

Even with such high early turnout, state and local election officials expect Thursday and Friday to potentially draw the largest numbers of Georgia voters, likely prompting long lines that have already been seen since early voting kicked off on Oct. 12.

On Wednesday, Raffensperger urged Georgians still needing to vote to “make a plan” for the last two days of early voting or for Election Day, when he estimates 2 million more Georgia voters could cast ballots in person.

Raffensperger also urged mail-in voters to deliver their absentee ballots quickly to one of hundreds of drop boxes scattered throughout the state or at a local elections office, particularly since officials are now able to start processing those ballots to help curb possible delays in reporting results next week.

“If that was me, I’d be filling that thing out today and I’d be running it down to either an absentee-ballot drop box or taking it to your election official to make sure they got it in there,” Raffensperger said.

Come Election Day, the state and counties have recruited around 50,000 volunteers largely as poll workers, while several hundred contractors and others trained in how to troubleshoot Georgia’s new voting machines will be at precincts for technical assistance, Raffensperger said.

Gaps in poll worker know-how and minor technical glitches contributed to long lines during the June 9 primary, along with delays caused by safety and sanitization measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the state’s roughly 3,000 precincts, Raffensperger said enough tech workers have been tapped so far to serve all but between 50 to 100 precincts, while counties also have access to a new real-time dashboard for reporting problems.

“We feel like we’re in as best shape as possible,” Raffensperger said.

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