The main reason absentee ballot requests were rejected for Georgia’s fall elections were because they arrived too late under a new deadline imposed as part of a restrictive voting law passed in March.
About 52% of the rejections were because voters had missed requesting absentee ballots before the cutoff, 11 days before the election, according to elections data analyzed by CNN.
The data was first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In March, Georgia’s Republican-controlled state legislature passed SB 202, an election law aimed at overhauling Georgia’s election code, including limiting absentee voting — a method that 1.3 million of the state’s residents had used to vote in the November 2020 general election.
Under the new law, voters have to request absentee ballots 11 days before an election, a significant change from four days before Election Day.
Richard Barron, Fulton County’s director of registration and elections, told CNN that the county “saw a significant number of absentee ballot applications rejected because of SB 202.”
“This just goes to show that from eliminating our mobile voting units to slashing our ability to use drop boxes to cutting back the time voters have to request an absentee ballot, SB202 is a poorly created and damaging law,” Barron said in an emailed statement.
Supporters of the new deadline include some voting advocates, who say it is more reasonable and ensures voters have enough time to apply for and complete their ballots.
“Four days is a really short period for a board of elections to receive a ballot application, process it, send it out, have it arrive at voters and be returned by 7 p.m. on Election Day. That time frame is just too short,” Susannah Scott, president of the League of Women Voters of Georgia, told CNN in a phone interview on Tuesday.
However, Scott said the new deadline is too long and the previous was too short, calling instead for a “happy medium” in between. Local election administrators have suggested seven days as the best time frame for meeting voters’ needs and ensuring absentee ballots are counted.
“Far too many voters end up being disenfranchised,” Sara Tindall Ghazal, the Democratic Party of Georgia’s member on the State Election Board, told the Atlanta newspaper. “It leads to many voters getting their applications rejected and not able to access their ballot otherwise.”
Overall, election officials rejected about 4% of all absentee ballot requests for the November 2 municipal elections, according to an analysis of state election data conducted by CNN. Of the 35,312 requests for absentee ballots, 1,362 were rejected, with 708 of those reported as arriving past the deadline. The rejection rate is up from less than 1% in last year’s general election, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s analysis.
Georgia is one of 19 states that have enacted new voting restrictions this year, according to the Brennan Center for Justice — amid a drive by Republican-controlled legislatures to tighten election rules.
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