CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger provided an update Monday on voting and the security of your vote for the General Election in November.
He wants counties in the state to expand polling locations.
“Security and integrity of the vote is my top priority. Ballot integrity is paramount. Elections matter. That’s why I’ve encouraged the counties to expand polling locations. And I ask the General Assembly to pass laws to require counties to split up locations that had a 30 minute wait. Your vote counts,” Raffensperger said.
On Monday, there was no talk of expanding polling locations from Chatham County election leaders. They say they are prepared for Tuesday, Nov. 3.
According to Chatham County Board of Elections Chairman Tom Mahoney III, all the election equipment has been tested, certified, and will be deployed to all 91 polling locations around the county. Mahoney said they’ll also have three times as many technicians available to help poll workers if any issues come up with the voting machines.
Between early in-person voting and Election Day, Chatham County elections officials had to divide up voting machines and equipment to be used in each, with the vast majority being used on Election Day. The remaining had to be spread across the six early voting locations.
“We had to make the judgement call of how many to give to early voting, and how many to dedicate to voting on Election Day. And that allocation decision was made weeks, long, long ago before this process began,” Mahoney said.
Mahoney also said the ratio of machines used for either in-person or on Election Day gets tweaked election to election and is based on need. As for the voting numbers, the latest indicate more than 34,000 have voted early in-person, more than 54,000 voters have requested absentee ballots, and just over 28,000 have been filled out and returned.
Technically you have until this Friday to request an absentee ballot.
But if you wait that long, elections officials said there’s a very real chance that it may not come in the mail quickly enough for you to fill it out and have it back to the Registrars Office by 7 p.m. on Election Day.
During Monday’s joint news conference, the chairmen for Chatham County’s Board of Registrars and Board of Elections said this Wednesday should really be the latest you request an absentee ballot if you haven’t already.
They also gave advice on what to do if you originally wanted to vote absentee, but decided to vote in person instead.
“If you did not receive your absentee ballot, or if you’ve received an absentee ballot and you do not want to use it, you want to cast your vote in person...what we’re encouraging you to do is go ahead and go to the early voting site and clear that status," said Mahoney.
Colin McRae, Chatham County Board of Registrars Chairman, added “A voter who has not received their absentee ballot who wishes to cancel it can call in to our dedicated line. We’re really encouraging people to do this in person. If you’re canceling your ballot, you’re going to be voting in person. So you might as well just do this in person and sign the affidavit, that way we have that affidavit on file.”
McRae explained, “We’re trying to encourage people to take care of this before Election Day, because every person that brings in a ballot to be spoiled on Election Day, just ties up the line for the people behind them. So we’re trying to encourage people to take advantage of the six different early voting locations, to take care of this process before Election Day.”
If you have received your absentee ballot and just haven’t filled it out yet, both men say the sooner the better. Because the fewer absentee ballots being processed on Election Day means the sooner race results can be determined.
The Board of Elections has already started processing absentee ballots thanks to a new state rule that went into effect over the summer.
Last week Board of Elections workers scanned in around 15,000 ballots, preparing them to be tabulated on Election Day.
Monday, the Chatham County Board of Registrars Office provided the final tally on early in-person weekend voting. 1,512 voters cast their ballots at the main office on Eisenhower Drive over two weekends, and 1,260 voters did the same at the Civic Center site.
Elections officials were also asked about security around Chatham County’s 91 polling locations on Election Day. Chairman Mahoney said, “I have faith in Chatham County residents that we will not have any kind of violence or anything like that.” Mahoney added, “It’s always a concern that we’re always addressing, and the Sheriff is always involved. We met with the Sheriff, and pledged his support. I know I can count on that. He’s going to have his deputies deployed.”
Mahoney also said chiefs of the various police departments around the county have also pledged their support to make sure there aren’t any issues at the polls.