— By Taylor Cooper, The Brunswick News, October 25, 2020 —
Voter turnout broke records during the first week of early voting both statewide and in Glynn County, and the trend is likely to continue this week, election officials predict.
By 8 p.m. Friday, 2.7 million ballots had been cast across the state, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. Of those, 1.75 million were cast in person at early voting polls and another 946,753 were mailed in.
Both in-person and mail-in ballots overshadowed the first two weeks of early voting in the 2016 presidential election by a long shot. About 1.06 million ballots had been cast by this same time in 2016, 938,159 in person and 116,764 by mail.
By percentage, that amounts to a 106 percent increase overall, a 48 percent increase in in-person voting and a 645 percent mail-in increase.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told The News on Friday that his office is expecting around 2.5 million to 3 million people to vote in-person during early voting and close to 1.5 million absentee ballots to be cast before the polls close on election day.
“That would then put us at 4 million before (election day) Tuesday,” Raffensperger said. “Before, we were expecting 2 million to vote on the day of election. Now, 2 million would be a strong election.”
Some of the absentee-by-mail ballots will no doubt be rejected for any number of reasons — around 1 percent of primary ballots were not accepted — Raffensperger said. He is urging voters to be careful when filling out their ballots.
Make sure all dates are correct, addresses are up to date and signatures are signed as usual.
He also noted some may be rejected because of multiple votes in a single race.
“There may be some water and sewer board or other race where you can vote for multiple candidates, but by and large you can only vote for one,” Raffensperger said.
On the state level many changes had to be made to similarly accommodate shifts in the voting landscape.
The elections office tried to help local offices by introducing online absentee ballot application and poll worker recruitment portals, both of which were quite successful, Raffensperger said.
“Poll worker recruiting is going to stay because that’s a national issue,” Raffensperger said.
In particular, the online portals proved effective in getting more young people involved, which has the double benefit of getting them engaged in civic service and lowering the average poll worker age. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to protect seniors wherever possible, he said.
Measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are in place at all locations.
The local elections board and the Georgia Secretary of State ask all voters to keep a six-foot distance from others and to wear a face mask.
Poll workers will abide by those rules and regularly clean voting equipment.