Early voting for the general primary and presidential preference primary begins this Monday with a few changes from previous years.
Voting will take place Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday, May 30, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Rome Civic Center, 400 Civic Center Drive. The precinct will be closed on May 25 in observance of Memorial Day.
This year, there will be only one location for early voting in Floyd, which has around 56,776 registered voters.
Elections clerk Robert Brady says the voting process will take longer this year due to social distancing protocols and procedures to ensure the safety of voters.
All poll workers will wear personal protective equipment to wear while at the precincts. As voters come in, they will be given hand sanitizer to use. The two rooms being used for voting will have only 10 people in each room at a time.
Poll workers will have a pathway laid out for voters to follow to keep everyone six feet apart and all of the voting machines are spread out throughout the room to keep everyone at a safe distance. Workers will also have sanitizing equipment on hand to keep everything clean and safe as the day goes on.
“This early voting experience will not be as pleasant as it usually is,” Brady said. “It’s going to take longer and it’s going to be more standing around and more aggravation I’m afraid.”
Brady still encourages people to apply for absentee ballots for the election, because in-person voting will be such an ordeal.
The elections office is working on setting up absentee ballot drop boxes for voters to drop off completed ballots.
Brady expects the two boxes to arrive within the next two weeks, but is unsure when they will be ready exactly. The clerk also said they aren’t sure where they’ll put the boxes at this time, but the elections board and the Floyd County Commission have been discussing different possibilities.
Locally, the elections office has received 17,277 absentee ballot applications and has processed 3,814 ballots.
Statewide, over 250,000 absentee ballots have been processed — a record number for the state — according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. This is just a quarter of the number of ballots that have been requested by 1.4 million voters in the state.
Georgia counties have already received over 278,000 completed ballots since the process has started, with only three weeks away from election day.
While normally around 5 to 7% vote by absentee ballot, Secretary of State Brian Raffensperger predicts around 50% of this year’s voters will choose to mail in their ballots.
While local clerks would usually be the ones sending out ballots, a third-party vendor under contract with the SOS will be handling all mail-outs across the state.
Voters can check on their application status on the Georgia My Voter website run by the SOS. Registration status, sample ballots and other information also is on the site.
This year is also the first year the state will be using their new voting machines, which processes ballots a lot more quickly and efficiently than the old ones.