ACLU of Georgia

Elections Officials in DeKalb Assure Voters Absentee Applications are Being Processed

By Hayley Mason | CBS46 | August 28, 2020 

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) — Tens of thousands of DeKalb County voters have been requesting absentee ballots for the upcoming November election and a Special Election in September to decide who will fill the 5th Congressional district seat of the late John Lewis.

In DeKalb, an email sent to absentee ballot applicants has sparked confusion and concern.

This email essentially told voters their requests would not be processed until mid-September. Some voters became concerned that their ballot requests would not be processed until the September 29th Special Election was handled first.

A concerned voter contacted the ACLU of Georgia, which is urging elections officials not to wait until late September because it would violate Georgia law and will lead to a major backlog.

“It’s gonna be disastrous if that happens,”said ACLU of Georgia political director Chris Bruce. “We’ve had a record number of people requesting absentee ballots right now, and if they wait until September 29th to do this, people may not get their ballots in time.”

State law says elections officials must mail or issue absentee ballots to applicants no less than 45 days before the November election—no greater than 49 days. That means applications should be mailed or issued starting September 15th.

CBS46 reached out to DeKalb County’s elections chair Sam Tillman who explains that the email was originally drafted when county elections officials were waiting on more info from the Secretary of State’s office.

“The email in question was an automatic response and it has been changed,” Tillman said. “What we were trying to is let the voters know that your ballot request has been received,” he added.

Tillman says since August 14th, DeKalb has processed around 70,000 absentee ballot requests for the General Election and they are not waiting to process applications. They are processing applications as they come in for both elections.

“We are ready for September and we will be ready for the November election,” Tillman added, urging voters to call the elections office if they have questions.

Fulton and Clayton County elections chairs tell CBS46 that they too will hold a September Special. They elections chairs in both counties tell CBS46 they are processing ballot applications for both elections as well.