Still waiting for your absentee ballot? Election officials have alternatives

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Some people tell News 3 they are still waiting to receive their requested absentee ballots for the upcoming election, despite requesting them weeks ago. At a joint press conference Monday, election officials say there are other options.

“I don’t know what the source of delays and the receipts of some of these ballots are,” explained Chatham County Board of Registrars Chairman Colin McRae. “But we’re hoping that some of that will be eliminated by the fact that …our office in Chatham County now handles the mail-out of the ballots that are requested.”

On October 16, the decision was made to grant individual counties the ability to mail-out absentee ballots. Before that date, a contracted, third-party vendor in Arizona was responsible for the output, according to McRae.

Of 54,462 processed absentee ballot requests, 28,040 have been returned and processed by employees at the Chatham County Board of Registrars.

Voters who are worried about receiving their absentee ballots before the election can vote in-person if they cancel or spoil their absentee ballot. That requires a phone call to the Board of Registrars (912-790-1530) or an email to voter@chathamcounty.org.

Voters who have already received — but not turned-in — their absentee ballots can still vote in-person by bringing them to the polls. After signing an affidavit and giving workers time to call the Board of Elections, they can vote in-person.

McRae says a team of people is dedicated to answering those phone calls. He anticipates many absentee ballot cancelations.

“We’re really emphasizing getting this done before election day to minimize the impact it would have on the lines you’ll see at the polling place and the impact of having all those cancellations done on election day,” he said.

So far in Chatham County, more than half of requested absentee ballots have been returned and processed. They cannot be officially tabulated until election day.

34,527 people have voted early so far in the county. There are still a few days to get to the polls before election day. In 2016, McRae says around 35,000 people voted early throughout the entire early voting period.

Officials suggest turning in your ballot sooner rather than later. They worry an influx of ballots on election day could delay results even more than expected.

“It may take longer than you want, but we will get it done,” said Chatham County Board of Elections Chairman Tom Mahoney. “Everybody will get a chance to vote, so if can just on election day and before just keep everything calm.”

Mahoney expects final results to be tabulated no later than two weeks after the election.

Voters can vote early or request an absentee ballot until Friday.

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