Georgia runoffs: Absentee and early voting in Chatham County

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – All eyes are on Georgia with a month until the Jan. 5 runoff, which will determine control of the U.S. Senate.

Republican incumbent David Perdue is challenged by Democrat Jon Ossoff. Republican Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed to the Senate in January, is trying to win the seat challenged by Democrat Raphael Warnock.

In Chatham County, voters are definitely paying attention — and some are casting their absentee ballots now.

“This runoff is already getting a lot of attention from our voters,” said Colin McRae, the chair of the Chatham County Board of Registrars.

“There is still plenty of time to request an absentee ballot and we, as a set of election officials in Chatham County, are really encouraging people to take advantage of absentee balloting,” said McRae. “For those concerned about the pandemic, it is the safest means of voting.”

You can request an absentee ballot in writing, but McRae encourages people to go online to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, saying he has used the process himself and it’s quick and easy.

In the November election, slightly more than 41,000 people sent back their absentee ballots in Chatham County. McRae says so far, more than 33,000 have requested absentee ballots for the runoff.

There will be up to nine drop boxes across the county if you don’t want to mail your ballot.

McRae says there is a verified process for checking signatures on the envelopes of those ballots. He says signatures on file with the election office are used, along with a person’s driver’s license signature or state-issued ID, as well as the signature on the original voter registration card.

He also commented on some of the controversy that has been generated by the Trump campaign, in terms of concerns about the election process and absentee ballots.

“The campaigns of both Sen. Loeffler and Sen. Perdue have been very vocal in their criticism of Secretary of State Raffensperger, which is unwarranted in my opinion, but it’s clear they are setting up some kind of increased scrutiny of the absentee process,” said McRae. “Frankly, I think our absentee process went pretty smoothly, and we don’t foresee having to change anything.”

In addition to the option to vote absentee, McRae says there will be up to three weeks of early in-person voting and five locations for the process.

“That gives significant options to the public for early voting,” said McRae.

McRae pointed out that there will be no early voting location in Pooler for the runoff because of an issue with the location they used in November. He says the Board of Registrars recommends that Pooler residents early vote at Mosquito Control.

He also reminds voters that in early voting, you can use any location that is convenient for you.

The last day to register to vote is Monday, Dec. 7. McRae says they are not aware of anyone from out of state trying to register to vote in the Georgia runoff.

“But we just want to head it off at the pass that is not permitted, it is not legal, you cannot as a resident outside of Georgia register in Georgia and hope to vote in that runoff,” said McRae.

Chatham County early voting schedule:

Open Monday, Dec. 14 through Thursday, Dec. 31 (closed Dec. 24 and 25):

  • Civic Center  (301 W. Oglethorpe): 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Mosquito Control (65 Billy B. Hair Drive): 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Islands Library (50 Johnny Mercer Blvd): 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Southwest Library (14097 Abercorn): 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Voting at Main Election Office (1117 Eisenhower Drive, Suite E):

  • Monday, Dec. 14 through Friday, Dec. 18: 8 a.m to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 19: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (only Saturday location)
  • Monday, Dec. 21 and Tuesday, Dec. 22: 8 a.m to 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 23: 8 a.m to 5 p.m.
  • Closed Dec. 24 and 25
  • Monday, Dec. 28, Tuesday, Dec. 29 and Wednesday, Dec. 30:  8 a.m to 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, December 31:  8 a.m. to 5 pm

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