Press Release: With Many Still Awaiting Absentee Ballots, the ACLU of Georgia Urges In-State Voters to Vote in Person
Across the state, more than 80,000 absentee ballots are outstanding, with nearly 11,000 in Cobb County, according to the Secretary of State’s data hub for the 2022 General Election. With the deadline to return absentee ballots just days away, these voters are forced to risk waiting to receive their ballots with hope they can return them in time or to find a way to vote in person on Election Day. The ACLU of Georgia attributes this stressful situation to SB 202, the state’s anti-voter law, which significantly shortened the window to receive and return absentee ballots.
Absentee ballots must be received by county elections offices by 7 pm on Tuesday, November 8. If Cobb County voters receive their absentee ballots before Election Day, they can return them at libraries around the county on Saturday, November 5 and Monday, November 7, as part of Cobb’s “last call” absentee ballot return program. Otherwise, voters need to make a plan to vote in person, either before early voting ends at 7 pm on Friday, November 4, or on Election Day.
This issue is the result of SB 202. The law’s passage in March 2021 was the conclusion of a closed-door legislative process meant to appease conspiracies around the 2020 election. Prior to SB 202, the first batch of absentee ballots were sent to Georgia voters 49 days ahead of Election Day, which gave voters time to contact their elections offices and have a new one sent. Now, the ballots are held and mailed out 25 to 29 days before Election Day, which leaves voters with little time to fix any issues.
“After nearly everyone in the country experienced lost and delayed mail in 2020, state officials decided to attack Georgians who vote by mail by needlessly delaying the sending of absentee ballots. Now, many Georgians who are currently out of state are disenfranchised,” said Vasu Abhiraman, ACLU of Georgia senior policy counsel and deputy policy and advocacy director.
“We call on state officials to accept absentee ballots through the deadline for military and overseas voters, which is Monday, November 14. For any absentee voter who is on the verge of being disenfranchised, please vote in person, by 7 pm today, or on Election Day.”
Madison Cook, a Cobb County resident and student at Mississippi State University, requested her ballot well ahead of time and took every possible step to ensure she received her absentee ballot. Unfortunately, she never received her ballot and has run out of options to vote in this election.
“There are many students like me who can’t come home to vote in person. Absentee ballots are our only option, and if we don’t receive ballots on time, we can’t vote at all,” said Cook. “I have done everything I can to stay in contact with Cobb County to figure out where my ballot is, but I was barely able to get through to them, until they told me it was too late to mail another ballot. I would drive more than 500 miles round trip to vote, but my car is in the shop. Despite my best efforts, it looks like I will be unable to cast a vote in this election.”
Records show that Cook’s ballot was mailed to her from Cobb County on Thursday, October 13. Cobb officials confirmed that many voters whose ballots were mailed on October 13 never actually received those ballots.
Cobb County resident Brandon Tolliver is experiencing similar barriers to voting.
“I requested my ballot from Cobb County well before the deadline. My partner did as well. He received his ballot. I didn’t,” said Tolliver. “I have a busy work schedule, which was the entire point of voting by mail in the first place. Now I have to scramble at the last minute to figure out a way to vote in person on the last day of early voting.”
Any Georgia voter who has not yet received an absentee ballot, or who received a ballot too late to return it, please contact the ACLU of Georgia at firstname.lastname@example.org.