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Fulton elections chief says ballot application backlog clear

May 27, 2020 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) — Election officials in Georgia’s most populous county say they’ve cleared a backlog of absentee ballot applications and are now processing ballot applications as they come in.

Fulton County is up to date on its processing of absentee ballot applications received by mail, email and fax, elections director Rick Barron said during a video news conference Wednesday. If voters have sent in an application and don’t see an absentee ballot issue date when they type their personal information into the My Voter Page of the secretary of state’s website, they should contact the county Department of Registration and Elections, Barron said.

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Georgia has twice postponed primaries because of the coronavirus pandemic. The state’s March 24 presidential primaries were first moved to May 19, when voters were set to choose party nominees for other 2020 races, including a U.S. Senate contest. As infections and deaths mounted, election day was bumped back again, to June 9.

State election officials said they have sent absentee ballot applications to all 6.9 million active registered voters in the state, and officials are encouraging as many people as possible to skip the polls and vote absentee by mail.

Fulton County voters can return their absentee ballots by mail or they can drop them off at one of the 20 ballot drop boxes located around the county. Ballots in the drop boxes, which will be available until 7 p.m. on election day, are collected daily, Barron said.

Voting at the county’s six in-person early voting locations runs from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day through Saturday but will be extended to run 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. starting Monday, Barron said. The county is also looking at possibly adding two additional early voting locations if they can find enough people to staff them.

One reason for the delay in processing absentee ballot applications in Fulton County is that an employee in the elections office died from COVID-19 in early April, resulting in the office being closed for several days, Barron said. Another factor, he said, was technical difficulties in processing ballot applications received by email.

By Wednesday morning, county election officials had processed more than 127,000 absentee ballot applications and had seen about 32,000 ballots returned, Barron said.

In-person voting will also be available on election day, but there will be some polling place changes, Barron said. Election officials plan to send a notification to affected voters by mail.