Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office said election officials in the state are “overwhelmed” by “three parallel elections.”
“Asking county elections officials to hold no-excuse absentee ballot voting, in addition to three weeks of early, in-person voting, and Election Day voting is too much to manage,” Raffensperger said in a statement on Dec. 23. “The way Georgia’s election system is set up under law, county elections officials are essentially required to run three elections simultaneously, one each for a population that wants to vote a different way. ”
In light of the CCP virus pandemic, “we need to reform our absentee ballot system,” Raffensberger said.
His office pointed to a 2005 Georgia law that allows for no-excuse absentee voting, which, for years, had been used by only between 5 percent and 7 percent of voters. However, that number grew significantly because of the pandemic, putting extra strain on the state’s resources, the secretary’s office said.
“As COVID-19 hit Georgia and the country, county elections officials had to deal with an overwhelming surge in absentee ballot voting. The problems caused by the surge in absentee ballots contributed to the long lines seen during the June primaries,” according to the statement. “Voters who were able to vote in person but requested absentee ballots anyway showed up at the polls to vote in person but still had to cancel their requested ballots. This further slowed down voting lines.”
Raffensperger, who has come under scrutiny from President Donald Trump and other Republicans for his handling the Nov. 3 election, is now calling for changes in how the state handles its mail-in ballots.
“Under current law, Georgia’s county elections officials are effectively tasked with running three parallel elections: early, in-person voting; no-excuse absentee by mail voting; and election day voting,” the office said. “The set up requires elections officials to split their focus, energy, and resources between the three different populations who cast ballots in different ways.”
Georgia will hold runoff elections for two U.S. Senate seats on Jan. 5, 2021. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, both Republicans, are running against Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively.