Georgia’s elections workers are heroes upholding democracy
SB202 has thrown hurdles in the way of officials prepping for Election Day
by Jerzy Shedlock
Elections workers had their hands full this week due in part to changes prompted by SB202, aka Georgia’s anti-voter law. They’re currently having to juggle tasks involving voter registration, as well as early and absentee voting in the runup to the November 8 midterm elections.
County officials are under pressure to process voter registrations from Tuesday’s deadline before early voting starts in all 159 counties on Monday, October 17. Early voting is the method of choice for Georgia voters by and large, said ACLU of Georgia Senior Policy Counsel and Deputy Political Director Vasu Abhiraman, so many voters are likely to show up at their assigned polling locations en masse on the first day. This is typical of an election cycle (with the exception of the deadline being postponed one day later due to Indigenous Peoples’ Day falling on Monday), but it’s still a daunting task nonetheless.
Compounding the workload of elections workers is a new requirement to mail out all outstanding absentee ballots, for any application that has come in, by the end of this week. SB202 stipulates that absentee ballots can only be mailed out four weeks before Election Day. Previously, absentee ballots were mailed out seven weeks before people headed to the polls.
“Our state legislature decided for truly no good reason to delay the mailing of absentee ballots by three full weeks. So instead of all these ballots being mailed out already, they’re being mailed out this week,” said Abhiraman. “They’re having to deal with all three of these things (registrations, absentee and preparing for early voting) all at once.”
We’ll be continuing our work to secure Georgians’ voting rights in the coming weeks. It should be said: elections workers are heroes. We’re grateful for the work they perform to uphold democracy. Still, it’s important to be prepared to vote. To circumvent any hurdles voters may experience at the polls, the ACLU of Georgia encourages Georgians to vote early. Additionally, reach out to us if you’re having issues with your ballot.
“Our advice to Georgians is to get out there and vote early, so if there’s any issue, say with your registration, you can take care of it within the election cycle,” Abhiraman said. “We’re also working to ensure that anyone who has to vote absentee by mail gets their ballots on time, so that if there’s anything wrong with your application, or ballot, you can resolve the issues.”
Jerzy Shedlock (he/him) is a communications specialist at the ACLU of Georgia.