ATLANTA — Monday is the first day Georgia voters can apply for an absentee ballot for the November election. Republicans in the legislature added restrictions that reduce the amount of time – and the number of locations – where voters can use absentee ballots.
After Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won U.S. Senate seats last year – and after Joe Biden beat Donald Trump – Republicans at the Capitol decided to rein in absentee voting in the name of election security.
The government won’t mail an absentee ballot unless the voter requests it.
"Today is 78 days out. So you can go ahead and request it. And that way you don’t have to worry about it," Georgia's Elections Director Blake Evans said.
State officials said it’s still easy enough to get an absentee ballot – though not as easy as it was two years ago. That’s when state officials mailed absentee ballot applications unsolicited to voters statewide because of the pandemic.
Two years ago, a voter could punch a driver’s license number onto a state website, add an address and other details, and get an absentee ballot. This year, the voter has to print the application, add a signature, then upload the printed application – or request it by U.S. mail.
Go here to get to the state website that will produce an absentee ballot.
Under the old law, voters could request absentee ballots 180 days before the election. The new law cut that to 78 days.
Previously, counties could send ballots to voters 49 days prior to the election. The new law cuts that to 29 days.
That means voters won’t get their absentee ballots until October.
Republicans at the Capitol made those changes with a law, SB202, that Democrats unsuccessfully tried to stop. Now election officials predict voters will be able to easily manage the new absentee ballot process.
"One of the keys is that they will need a pen and ink signature this time around," Evans said. "And that was the same way for anybody who applied for the May primary election, and it’s going to be the same way this election."