The deadline to register to vote in the November General Election, Oct. 5, is quickly approaching and elections officials are clearing the air on any confusion involving absentee ballots or getting registered.
There are currently more than 17,500 registered voters in Hart County, elections coordinator Robin Webb said. But residents who haven’t yet registered can do so by bringing in an application by Oct. 5 or having the application postmarked by Oct. 5.
Residents can also use My Voter Page to register online by visiting www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.
Early voting begins Oct. 12 in the lower level of the library at 150 Benson St., Hartwell. Early voting is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and then 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 24.
Webb said multiple safety precautions will be in place, similar to those used earlier in the year during the presidential primary election.
“There will be social distancing. There will be sneeze guards. We have face shields. We have face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer,” Webb said. “We’ll be sanitizing machines between voters. We’ll be sanitizing stylist pens and surfaces. Everything to the best of our ability.”
Absentee ballots began to be mailed out last week, Webb said, and so far about 150 have been returned. Webb said that’s more than the normal number of absentee ballots returned this early.
“A lot of people also don’t understand that we are having in-person voting,” Webb said. “They think that they have to vote this way. We are having in-person voting.”
If residents don’t want to send their absentee ballot through the post office, a drop-box is available at the elections office located at 182 Cade Street. The drop-box is under 24-hour surveillance.
“We’re not discouraging anybody from not voting absentee,” Webb said. “I just don’t want them to think that’s their only option”
Webb said there has been some confusion between applications for absentee ballots and the actual ballots. Many people have received multiple applications for ballots, either from political parties or activist groups, but only one application needs to be filled out and returned in order to receive a ballot. Only one ballot will be provided per voter, Webb said.
“Some people are automatically getting (ballots), but it’s because they’re elderly or disabled and when they applied the first time they indicated that, so they’re on a rollover list,” Webb said. “If you don’t meet those qualifications or if you did not tell us you met those qualifications, then we didn’t sign you up to do that and you’re going to have to apply (for a ballot).”
When signing the oath while filling out the application and the ballot, Webb said to use your official signature, not your printed name or initials.
To track the status of your absentee ballot, visit www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.
A program called BallotTrax that allows voters to receive text or email alerts about the status of their absentee ballot launched this week. Voters can sign up at www.georgia.ballottrax.net/voter/.
“Creating this new absentee ballot tracking and notification system will provide Georgia voters with greater clarity and increased confidence that their votes are accepted,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement.
Around 1.2 million Georgians have been sent absentee ballots so far, marking a surge in vote-by-mail amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the tracking system, voters will receive a message when their absentee-ballot application is accepted, when the ballot itself is sent to a voter and whether the cast ballot is accepted or rejected, according to Raffensperger’s office.
Anyone whose mail-in ballot is rejected will be given instructions on how to correct the issue and make sure their vote is counted, Raffensperger’s office said.
Beau Evans with the Capitol Beat News Service contributed to this report.