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Confusion abounds on election Forms for absentee ballots mailed


     Voters should have received a form to request a paper absentee ballot in the mail last week or coming this week. Note, that regular voting options will still be available under current plans.

When discussing the latest in an ongoing series of issues resulting from how the social distancing and shelter-in-place stipulations affect the upcoming primary as well as the half-completed presidential primary, longtime Pickens elections supervisor said during a telephone conversation Monday, “it’s a little bit different, well, actually it’s a lot different.”

Among the many election issues:

• Will the date of the primary stand? Underlying everything is the possibility the May 19th primary, where all the big contested posts in Pickens County show up on the GOP ballots (commission chair, sheriff, tax commissioners, state rep and two school board seats), could change. It’s impossible to predict if this will be delayed, according to one


knowledgeable state officials, as speaker of the house David Ralston and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger are at odds over a possible delay.

Locally, Roberts said she hopes it is delayed as with all the unprecedented measures due to the pandemic, she felt the election workers will need extra time to get set up.

If no change is made early voting starts April 27th.

• Is the mailer for real? The state sent all voters a mailer advising them of how to choose an absentee ballots for the May 19 primary, so they wouldn’t have to go to the polls. 

Roberts makes it clear that regular early voting and Election Day voting will still be an option. No one has to choose the paper absentee ballot by mail.

But, several people have commented that the mailing, which was produced by a state vendor, didn’t look official.

“We’ve had a question about whether it was a hoax,” Roberts said. “And it did kind of look like junk mail to me.”

Roberts said among the places they are in new territory is for this paper absentee ballot. Anyone choosing that absentee option, will send back the mailer/application to the local election office. They will verify it locally and then pass it along to the state who will notify a vendor to send out an official ballot. Previously all absentee ballots were solely handled by the local office and Roberts was concerned about how this local, state, vendor chain will work. “It’s nothing like we have ever seen before,” she said.

Two specific points on the mailer Roberts addressed:

If you saw the mailer in your mailbox for a previous resident of that address, it shows that person has not re-registered at their new address, which can be done at the secretary of state’s website. Even if someone illegally requests absentee ballots for a person who has moved, the local office verifies all information, including signature, and would catch the false claim before a ballot is mailed.

Second, if you didn’t receive the mailer at all, call the elections office at 706-253-8781 to be sure your address and registration are up-to-date. You can also print the absentee request form at the secretary of state website. Google Ga. Secretary of State.

• Two elections in one for some? Further adding to the confusion is the fact that the state was already early voting for the presidential primary when that was put on hold and then combined with the primary on May 19th.

However, here’s a rub that Roberts has already had one angry response on. For the presidential vote, only the Democratic ballot has choices; the Republicans saw only Donald Trump. But in the May 19 primary, all the action is on the Republican side at the local level. So, if someone did not vote early in the presidential primary, they will have a choice to make. If they want to vote for a Democrat for president, they won’t see the local races or if they want to vote for the commission chair and sheriff on the GOP, they won’t have a choice of voting in the Democrat presidential race.

If you had voted early in the presidential primary, you can vote either ballot in the primary, regardless of what you voted in the presidential primary.