Citing the coronavirus pandemic, Georgia sent every registered voter in the state an absentee ballot application ahead of the June 9 primary, a decision that contributed to the election’s massive turnout.
Despite the virus’ rapid spread in the state in recent weeks, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has already said he would not do it again.
Monday, the Cobb Board of Elections signaled its willingness to step in.
The Board of Elections voted unanimously to ask the county’s governing board for money to send every registered voter in Cobb an absentee ballot application ahead of the Nov. 3 general election.
Janine Eveler, director of the county’s elections department, said the county received quotes from three vendors regarding the cost of mailing absentee ballot applications to its 520,000 registered voters. The lowest was $255,724.
Democratic lawmakers representing Cobb County have pressed the Board of Elections to mail absentee ballot applications en masse, saying the board should be doing everything it could to make it easier for people to vote absentee and not risk catching or spreading the coronavirus by voting in-person.
People who spoke during the public comment period of the board’s meeting Monday urged its members to approve the proposal. One, a 69-year-old retired nurse, said she had served as a poll worker for the first time during the June election, but wouldn’t in the Aug. 11 runoff out of fear of the crowds and possibility of contracting the coronavirus.
In Cobb, 142,568 people applied for an absentee ballot for the June 9 primary. Ultimately, 106,832, or about 20% of the county’s registered voters, voted absentee, Eveler said.
In an email after the meeting, Eveler said more than 11,000 voters cancelled their absentee ballots after deciding to vote in-person.
“Several more thousand were rejected because they arrived back too late to be counted,” she wrote. “The others may have simply decided not to vote after all.”
Eveler said she would like to have the county Board of Commissioners consider the Board of Election’s request at its Aug. 11 meeting.
In other business, the Board of Elections voted to move precinct Smyrna 2A from Smyrna Fire Station #3 at 2825 Park Road to First Baptist Church of Smyrna at 1275 Church St. The decision will take affect ahead of the Nov. 3 general election. The precinct represents more than 5,400 registered voters.
Another change may occur in time for the Aug. 11 runoff, however.
Eveler said 12 ballot drop boxes the county had ordered arrived on Friday, and that four of them might be installed before the runoff, bringing the total number of available ballot drop boxes to eight.