Mary Norwood has an unorthodox request for local Republican voters: when you get your application from the state on which absentee ballot you want mailed to you, choose the Democratic one.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office March 24 announced it is mailing absentee ballot request forms to Georgia’s 6.9 million voters to give them the option to vote that way in the May 19 primary election (which has since been postponed to June 9) instead of in person at a polling precinct due to health concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Norwood, the chair of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods and a two-time Atlanta mayoral candidate, said she has good reason to ask GOP voters to pick a Democratic ballot.
“The district attorney and the sheriff are two of the most important positions that affect us in public safety,” she said. “Those are the two races that if you select a Democratic ballot, you have the opportunity to influence who becomes our next district attorney and who becomes our next sheriff. If you don’t select a Democratic ballot, you don’t get that opportunity.”
On the ballot, there are no Republicans but five Democrats running for sheriff: Walter Calloway, Myron Freeman, incumbent Ted Jackson, Pat Labat and Charles Rambo. In the district attorney’s race, there are no Republicans but three Democrats running: incumbent Paul Howard, Christian Wise Smith and Fani Willis.
“This is essentially an anti-crime campaign,” Norwood said. “The Northside area and Buckhead have been very concerned about the crimes plaguing our community. This is your opportunity to weigh in on the two most important positions in our criminal justice system in our county to keep us safe.”
Norwood also pointed out that there are no key contested Republican races in the May 19 primary, with all the candidates running for U.S. Senate, District 5 and 6 U.S. House and even the local state House and Senate seats are unopposed. Also, the judicial races, because they are nonpartisan, will be on both the Republican and Democratic ballots, so GOP voters wouldn’t miss out on those decisions by voting Democratic.
Norwood said even if you’re a member of the Republican Party, that doesn’t prohibit you from voting Democratic in an election.
“That’s why I am personally spreading this information as best I can,” she said. “It would be fabulous next week as people get their ballots if they say, ‘Oh yeah, if I vote Democratic, I can make a difference here.’ I just don’t want people to miss the opportunity to make up their own mind and make their own selection.”
Raffensperger’s office stated only about 5% of Georgia voters cast their ballots in absentia in the 2016 and 2018 elections. But with the coronavirus causing health concerns when it comes to large gatherings and social distancing being in play, many more residents could vote with absentee ballots this year.
The state has already postponed the March 24 presidential primary election until May 19 due to the virus.