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Fulton gives voting update a week out from Election Day

By Ben Brasch, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(CNT) City News And Talk #atlanta-ga

A week before the polls finally close, Fulton County officials on Tuesday said the county is set to smash voting records — but they say that shouldn’t be the problem it was in June.

“We are prepared for what will be an unprecedented turnout,” Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts said Tuesday over Zoom.

As of Monday, 45% of the county’s nearly 800,000 voters had cast their ballot, said Fulton elections head Richard Barron.

He said nearly 360,000 people have voted early. Of that, about 248,00 voted in person. The previous record for in-person early voting was roughly 262,000 in 2016.

The rest so far — just over 112,000 — voted by mail, and Barron expected that this election will exceed 150,000 mailed ballots by the end. Fulton has never had anywhere close to that many mail-in ballots, pushed this year by COVID-19 fears.

Barron said it’d be best for voters to not send ballots back by mail because there may not be enough time for them to be counted. Don’t fear: Voters still have the option to cancel their mail-in ballot and vote early, or voters can simply slip their filled-out mail ballot into any one of the county’s 38 drop boxes.

Last-minute early voters week should be careful, Barron said, because he expects 30,000 voters on Friday alone. Folks can avoid lines by checking the county’s live tracker. Early voting sites this week are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

When precincts open on Nov. 3, there will have been 91 polling place changes — affecting a third of Fulton County voters. Officials are begging voters to check that they go to the correct precinct on Election Day by confirming at https://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do so they have a good process and don’t slow down the line for others.

In all, Barron expects an 80% turnout for this election, meaning 620,000 people will have voted.

Barron said Tuesday that, when the polls close (hopefully on time at 7 p.m.), machines can start quickly releasing the results of early voting. He predicts those results should be online by 8:30 p.m.

“All the ballots that will be counted by absentee, those results will be released shorty after 7 p.m., so probably anything that we’ve counted through 2 p.m. on Election Day will be released at 7 p.m.,” he said.

He said roughly 45,000 mail-in ballots have already been scanned, with at least 90% of those being scanned by 2 p.m. on Election Day.

He said he expects 60% of turnout to be done via in-person early voting and 20% to 25% by mail.

Fulton — the most-populated county in Georgia — is known for its late-night election results. So what about those live, day-of results this year with new technology from the state?

“My hope is to have 90% of all the Election Day results in by 11 o’clock, and then we’ll finish hopefully sometime around midnight to 1 a.m. for Election Day sites,” Barron said.