Politics

Federal judge extends deadline for absentee ballots to be returned in Georgia

PHOTO CREDITS: STEPHEN FOWLER/GPB NEWS 

A federal judge extended the deadline on Monday for absentee ballots to be returned in Georgia, ruling that they must be counted if postmarked by Election Day and delivered up to three days afterward. ~

The decision will likely result in tens of thousands of ballots being counted that would have otherwise been rejected for arriving after 7 PM on Election Day. In this year’s primary, election officials disqualified at least 8,495 absentee ballots because they were received late, according to state election data. The secretary of state’s office plans to immediately appeal the ruling. ~

This decision by the federal judge refers to strictly absentee voting, not to be confused with mail-in-voting, which has experienced national controversy and debate regarding its usage in the upcoming presidential election amid the COVID-19 pandemic. ~

The New Georgia Project, a voter registration group, and several individual voters had sued to demand several changes along with the deadline extension. The lawsuit alleged that five aspects of Georgia law on absentee ballots can disenfranchise lawful voters in violation of their constitutional rights. The lawsuit also asked the judge to order Georgia to provide prepaid postage to return absentee ballots; to order the state to allow voters to designate any third party to submit their absentee ballots; to establish a uniform set of standards for notifying voters about problems with absentee ballots; and to allow all voters to submit a single absentee ballot application for each election cycle (ABC). ~

Attorneys for Georgia warned that delaying the absentee deadline could result in chaos as election results hang in the balance. Election officials will have to scramble to count ballots quickly and verify that absentee ballots were in fact postmarked by Nov. 3. Supporters of the decision, however, say that the extension is needed to allow for all voters to have their votes counted. The US Postal Service has said that mail delivery delays could hold up absentee ballots. Voters should mail their completed ballots at least a week in advance of Election Day, by Oct. 27, according to a USPS letter to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. ~

ARTICLE: CARSON CHOATE 

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