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Georgia to send absentee ballot request forms to every voter amid coronavirus concerns

The state was originally scheduled to conduct primary voting today but postponed that last week to May 19 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ATLANTA — Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Tuesday his office would be sending absentee ballot request forms to every voter in the state in a bid to increase mail-in voting and help "ensure those who rely on in-person voting to access the ballot can do so safely."

The state was originally scheduled to conduct primary voting today, March 24, but postponed that last week to May 19 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Raffensperger framed encouraging absentee voting as an opportunity to prevent congestion at polling sites, "an effort to allow as many Georgia voters as possible to exercise their right to vote without leaving their homes," a release said.

RELATED: Coronavirus in Georgia: Cases now stand at 1,026 with 32 deaths

"With social distancing as the most important tool for limiting the spread of coronavirus, providing alternatives to voting in person is crucial," the release added. "All Georgia voters can request and vote an absentee ballot for any reason."

Additionally, those over the age of 65 and those with disabilities will be able to use these forms to request absentee ballots for the November general election.

“Times of turbulence and upheaval like the one we Georgians face require decisive action if the liberties we hold so dear are to be preserved,” Raffensperger said in the release.

The secretary of state also announced measures to maintain safety at in-person polling sites:  "Poll workers will receive additional resources to clean the equipment regularly. In-person voters who show up to vote in person will be instructed to maintain a safe distance when waiting to vote," the release said. "Understanding the extra risk Georgia’s generally elderly poll workers face, Raffensperger is working to help counties hire more and younger poll workers. Extra staff will allow those who feel sick to be absent from the polls without significantly impacting continuity while a younger pool of workers will increase resiliency in the face of the COVID-19 threat."

According to Raffensperger's office, there are 6.9 million Georgia voters who will receive the absentee ballot request forms. It was not detailed when they need to be returned by in order to receive an absentee ballot for the May 19 primary.

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