As some Hall County voters begin to receive their absentee ballots in the mail, there’s a few things Hall County Elections officials want them to know.
“This has been an unprecedented election season that started with the implementation of new voting equipment,” Hall County Elections Director Lori Wurtz (pictured) said. “That set of challenges was quickly overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
As a result of the current health crisis, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced that the Statewide General Primary/Presidential Preference Primary Election, which was originally scheduled for May 19, would be postponed until June 9. The state also sent absentee ballot applications to all active, registered voters in the state, giving them the option to request an absentee ballot in an effort to encourage social distancing.
“Voters who request an absentee ballot will notice that their ballot still contains the May 19 date,” Wurtz said. “We want voters to know this date was intentionally left as May 19, and in no way compromises their ability to vote or the ability for their vote to be counted.”
Certain voters may also notice a few other inconsistencies on their ballots. For instance, there is an error on the heading for the ninth district congressional race. The heading labels the race as Georgia’s first congressional district; however, the candidates listed in that box are the correct ones running for the ninth district.
“The heading error will have no effect on the tabulation of those ballots,” said Wurtz.
Some City of Gainesville and City of Buford voters’ absentee ballots may also include races for the Hall County Board of Education posts 3 and 4, races in which they are not eligible to vote on.
“We made a mistake, and we are working to correct it as quickly as possible so that no further ballots are affected,” said Wurtz.
Approximately 1,200 out of the 125,650 active, registered voters are potentially affected by this issue.
She said that if a Gainesville or Buford resident votes on the Hall County Board of Education races, those votes will not be counted.
“We have a long-standing process in place to ensure that these types of things do not slip through the cracks when it comes to tallying votes,” Wurtz said. “A duplicate of these ballots will be generated that omits the races that are not applicable to these voters. While only the duplicate ballot will be counted, the original ballot will still be kept on file as a record. This process will be overseen by a vote review panel.”
Wurtz said voters who wish to have a new ballot with the corrected congressional heading and/or board of education races removed (for Gainesville and Buford voters only), they can contact the Hall County Elections Office at 770-531-6945 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a reminder, voters who cast their ballot in the Presidential Preference Primary during the first two weeks of early voting in March will not be allowed to vote a second time on the same items for which they already voted.
Absentee ballot applications must be received by June 5, 2020, and absentee ballots must be received by the Hall County Elections Office by the times the polls close on June 9.
Beginning the week of May 4, a ballot drop box will be installed outside the Hall County Government Center, located at 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville, GA 30504. This will provide an additional secure option for voters, as they can drop off their absentee ballots at any time without paying for postage or having to make contact with a member of staff or the public.
“The Hall County Elections staff does a tremendous job ensuring our elections flow smoothly and fairly,” Hall County Board of Elections Chairman Tom Smiley said. “I am proud of their commitment to providing this community with an honest and impartial election process—especially in the face of COVID-19 challenges, which, along with numerous new statewide voting procedures and regulations, have significantly affected election protocols.”
More information about Hall County Elections, including dates and locations for early voting and a number of frequently asked questions, can be found at www.hallcounty.org.