By Mark Niesse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga (CNT)
Votes are pouring in across Georgia, with over 262,000 absentee ballots returned to county election offices four weeks before Election Day.
The number of absentee votes so far is already higher than the total cast in the 2016 presidential election, when 202,500 voters mailed in ballots.
In all, nearly 1.5 million Georgia voters have requested absentee ballots, according to data from the secretary of state’s office.
High interest in absentee voting puts Georgia on track for a record-breaking presidential election, with total turnout estimated to reach 5 million. About one-third of all voters are projected cast absentee ballots, with the rest voting in-person during early voting starting Oct. 12 or on Election Day on Nov. 3.
Absentee voting gained popularity this year as a way to participate in the election remotely, without having to visit in-person polling places during the coronavirus pandemic.
About 40% of voters who have requested absentee ballots for the general election didn’t participate in the June 9 primary. Of those who did cast ballots in the primary, 60% used Democratic Party ballots and 38% voted Republican. The remaining 2% pulled nonpartisan ballots.
There is also a significant number of new Georgia voters who requested absentee ballots. About 13% of those who have requested absentee ballots first registered to vote after 2016.
All registered voters are eligible to request and cast absentee ballots, and there’s still time to do so before the election. Voters can order an absentee ballot online at ballotrequest.sos.ga.gov, or they can fill out and return a paper form from the secretary of state’s website.
Absentee ballots will be counted if they’re received by county election offices by 7 p.m. on Election Day, according to a recent court ruling. Voters can return absentee ballots by mail, in-person at county election offices, or at drop boxes set up across the state.