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Absentee ballots could slow election results



The final week of early voting for the primary election is nearly over, with the last day to cast an early ballot Friday, June 5. Election day is the following Tuesday, June 9, but the hefty amount of absentee ballots could cause a delay to final counts. 

The Pickens Elections & Registration Office issued 5,123 absentee ballots for this primary election, which includes the presidential primary and several state and local races. This is significantly more absentee ballots than the election supervisor has ever issued in the past, which was at most 500 prior to this election. 

The state will allow elections offices to begin counting ballots the morning of Election Day on June 9. However, Julie Roberts, the local elections supervisor said due to the small size of the Pickens building they may not meet state requirements to sequester absentee ballot counting during the day. If that is the case, those ballots will not begin to be counted until 7 p.m. on June 9. 

In a discussion with Roberts about printing the final results, it appears possible the results may not be in before the Progress deadline of 11 p.m. 

Depending on how long it takes to count those absentee ballots, the results will have to posted online and would not appear in the printed edition of this paper next week. The Progress will hold until the last minute possible to get the results but with the number of absentee ballots and the likelihood of close races, it may not be feasible.  

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office sent absentee ballot applications to all registered voters in hopes of reducing the number of in-person voters during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Capitol Beat News Service, roughly 600,000 people have sent in absentee ballots of the more than 1.5 million who requested them.

“Handling the avalanche of absentee ballot requests has been challenging for many county elections officials,” the news service states, going on to note that counties have been swamped with processing absentee ballot applications and returned ballots.

“Officials have asked voters to be patient as they sift through absentee ballot requests submitted by mail and online in recent weeks,” the article states. 

Early voting runs through Friday, June 5 at the Pickens County Elections Office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Voting will be at regular polling places on Tuesday, June 9 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The elections office is located at 83 Pioneer Road, Jasper, Ga. They can be reached at 706-253-8781. 

The secretary of state’s My Voter Page can be found online and offers a wealth of information, Google My Voters Page to find it.