Absentee ballot requests hit record as early voting kicks off

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Some people are choosing to beat the long lines in this election and opting to vote by absentee ballot instead.

This presidential election voters set a record for absentee ballot requests. And there are various ways to submit that ballot, but which one is the best option?

“It was so convenient. Don’t have to wait in the long lines,” said voter Judy Hooks.

She is one of thousands of voters in Richmond County opting not to vote early in person, a decision that led to a bit of a wait for some, or cast a ballot on Election Day. In fact, this year an overwhelming number of people will exercise their right to vote the same way, by absentee.

“In 2016, which would be our last point of reference of an election like this, we issued around 8,000 ballots by mail. This year, for this presidential election, we have already issued around 35,000 and we’re still three weeks out here,” said Lynn Bailey, Executive Director for Richmond County Board of Elections.

That means more people can still request an absentee ballot. Just remember to fill in the circle completely and sign in the appropriate spots. Submitting that ballot can be done at the US Post Office, at the Board of Elections Office or its official absentee ballot drop boxes.

“Majority of the ballots that have been returned to us have come through traditional United States mail, thousands and thousands,” Bailey said.

She added the second voter preferred option is the official absentee ballot drop box.

Hooks voted that way Tuesday. “I don’t like to hand my ballot, just hand it to someone. I’d rather see it go in the appropriate drop off box.”

And even though Bailey said drop boxes are secured to the ground, under surveillance and checked daily, some voters prefer voting in person.

“There is controversy about the mail, about he ballot (box). I’m not in for any of it. I want my answers up front,” said a voter who only wanted to be referred to as “Alicia” and changed her mind about her absentee voting.

And if you still want to vote by absentee ballot complete with the in-person experience that results in an I’m a Georgia Voter sticker, well you can have that too.

“The safest way to return it is to bring it to our office. Put it in our hands and we’ll check it in for you. We’ll make sure that it’s signed where it needs to be signed,” Bailey said.

There are websites that help track your absentee ballot. Voters can go to Georgia’s My Voter Page or BallotTrax.

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