The first week of early in-person voting in Georgia is off to a record-breaking start, according to the Secretary of State’s office. Some Georgia voters are waiting in long lines to cast their ballots early, and many others have chosen to vote absentee by mail, states a recent news release at sos.ga.gov.
“Georgia is a leader in election access,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said. “Notwithstanding the pandemic, voters in the Peach State can take advantage of no-excuse absentee ballot voting by mail or through a secure drop box; three weeks of early, in-person voting; or Election Day voting.”
The Secretary of State’s office reported that as of 8 p.m. on Oct. 18, a total of 1,482,432 ballots had been cast. Of that total, 819,406 voters had voted early in-person, and 663,026 absentee-by-mail ballots had been cast.
By contrast, the Secretary of State’s office shared early voting statistics in the 2016 General Election.
The total number of ballots cast at the close of polls on Oct. 23, 2016, was 578,147. The total number of early in-person ballots cast four years ago at the end of the first week of early voting was 490,147. The total number of absentee-by-mail ballots cast in the same period in 2016 was 88,000.
This equates to a 156 percent increase in total voter turnout to date, a 67.2 percent increase in early in-person turnout to date and a 653.4 percent increase in absentee-by-mail ballots accepted to date.
Here in McDuffie County, there were 2,602 early in-person votes cast as of Oct. 16 (last Friday), said McDuffie County Elections and Voter Registration Director Phyllis Brooks. Brooks said as of last week, a total of 1,733 absentee-by-mail ballots had been returned to the elections office.
Brooks also confirmed that registered voters do not have to declare a political party when they vote in a General Election. Voters are only asked to check a box declaring political party preference when filling out a form prior to voting in a primary election, according to Brooks.
Early voting ends on Oct. 30. During that period polls will be open for early, in-person voting from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, at the old Thomson High School gym on Main Street in Thomson (across from the Brickyard) and at the community center in Dearing. Voters can also vote early this Saturday, Oct. 24 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Early votes will be tabulated on Monday, Nov. 2, according to Brooks. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.
If voting absentee-by-mail, voters must be sure to sign their ballots and should place their ballots in the small white envelope and then the larger yellow or yellow and white envelope. They can then mail in their absentee ballots or drop them into a secure absentee ballot drop box located on the sidewalk outside the old Courthouse on Main Street in Thomson or in the secure absentee ballot drop box at the community center in Dearing.
Registered voters are reminded to bring photo identification with them when they vote. In Georgia, the following forms of ID are accepted when voting in person: a Georgia driver’s license, even if expired; a valid state or federal government issued photo ID, including a free ID card issued by the county registrar's office or the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS); a valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of the state; a valid U.S. passport ID; a valid U.S. military photo ID; or a valid tribal photo ID.
For more information, voters can visit the Georgia Secretary of State website at sos.ga.gov, or call the Elections and Registration Office at 706-595-2105.