— By Ryan Kolakowski, Marietta Daily Journal, October 7, 2020 —
MARIETTA — Georgia’s top election official has a simple message to the 5.5 million people he expects to cast a ballot in November’s general election.
Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, came to Cobb County on Thursday to accept a donation of 315,000 ounces of hand sanitizer from Anheuser-Busch. At Marietta’s Atlanta Beverage Company warehouse on Atlanta Industrial Drive, Raffensperger said Georgia voters should try to get to the polls when advance voting opens next Monday.
“We’re really encouraging folks — if you want to vote absentee, please vote absentee — but if you want to vote in person, we’re really strongly encouraging people to show up during the early voting cycle,” Raffensperger said. “You have 16 days to vote early. We’ll expect about two million folks over that 16 days.”
The secretary of state said he expects another two million voters to cast a ballot on Election Day, and 1.5 million voters to file absentee ballots.
“We know that we’re going to have a big turnout election,” he said. “We want everyone to vote, but if they can vote absentee and vote early, I think that they’ll find it will be a more pleasurable and less stressful day for them.”
According to Cobb Director of Elections and Registration Janine Eveler, over 100,000 more voters have registered this year compared to 2016, the year of the last presidential election. On Wednesday, Eveler said the county still had 18,000 more registration applications to process.
“Voters are engaged and watching the process, and we understand that’s coming from both sides of the aisle,” Raffensperger said. “We want to make sure that voters have a very secure and pleasurable experience voting and exercising their constitutional right.”
In order to provide that secure voting experience, Raffensperger said Georgia has added more voting precincts, bringing the total to about 3,000 across the state. He said his office has also sent additional scanners — the machines where voters file their paper ballots — to counties that have requested them. According to Raffensperger, the lack of scanners caused a “bottleneck” during the primary elections.
Due to the pandemic, Raffensperger is expecting more than a million voters to cast an absentee ballot. He said those voters can track their submitted ballots on the secretary of state’s website to ensure that they have been received. Voters can check the status of their ballots on the online “Georgia My Voter Page.”
“If you have any concerns about the postal service, many counties — and I know Cobb County, for one — have added drop boxes that you can just drop it off,” he said. “It’s under 24-hour video surveillance, and it is emptied on a regular basis so that you know that your ballot will then be received.”
Polling Place ProtectionPolling places across the state will also implement virus mitigation protocols to keep in-person voters safe. According to Raffensperger, election workers will space voters 6 feet apart in lines and regularly wipe down voting machines. All poll workers will wear masks, and polling places will also make use of plexiglass dividers.
And, of course, polling places across the state will provide Anheuser-Busch hand sanitizer.
Read the entire story: Get out and vote early, says Georgia’s Secretary of State