SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Humanitarian issues are the basis behind some concern that Georgia’s already postponed presidential primary election may get postponed a second time.
The issue was brought up again after Governor Kemp’s order to shelter in place. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger postponed the election in March when concerns mounted with confirmed cases of coronavirus.
At that point, officials say Raffensperger based his decision to postpone the election off of state law that allows a Secretary of State to postpone an election 45 days after the governor declares a state of emergency.
Georgia Election Director Chris Harvey said Thursday that the law is unclear after the 45 days expire. The question: who can postpone the election, if it comes to that?
“Does a new State of Emergency trigger that? Does [the Secretary of State’s Office] have the authority? Does the governor have the authority? Does the legislature have the authority? That’s the question,” said Harvey.
He says the Secretary of State’s office is considering their options thoughtfully and thoroughly.
“Elections tend to get scrutinized very very carefully. A lot of times, it ends up in court if people disagree,” said Harvey. “[That] could happen in this case, regardless of what [Raffensperger] decides. He could decide any number of things.”
Raffensperger’s office sent News 3 the following statements. The Secretary of State also posted them Wednesday on his Facebook page:
“I execute elections, I don’t create them. If the leadership of the General Assembly and the Governor wants to hold the election on May 19, we will support them and do our best to make it happen efficiently, safely and accurately.
We continue to monitor the situation with county elections officials. If and when the Governor extends the state of emergency, that’s when we can reevaluate the situation and move the election.”Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger
Governor Kemp’s office says the governor does not have the authority to move the election.
“God willing, May 19th, we’ll be back to normal and then there won’t be any problems,” said Buzz Brockaway, a former state legislator and vice president for public policy at Georgia Center for Opportunity. “But we don’t now that yet. So I think it’s entirely appropriate to have those types of conversations.”
For now, the Secretary of State’s office says absentee ballots are the solution. The state sent 6.9 million absentee ballot applications to active and registered voters across the state.
If you get an application in the mail, you must fill it out and submit it to your local Board of Elections, in order to request a ballot.
Georgia’s presidential preference primary is still scheduled for May 19. The deadline to register to vote is April 20.