Georgia is the latest state to see a major surge in absentee voting in the midst of the pandemic.
Ahead of its primary Tuesday, elections officials by Sunday had received 943,000 ballots — a 2,500 percent increase from the 2016 presidential primary, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Of the 1.2 million who have already voted (a number that includes in-person early voting, which ended Friday), there was close to an even split between Democrats and Republicans, according to the AJC report.
After some debacles in the states that held their primaries last week, election experts are looking to see if Georgia can set the model for how states can quickly scale up their absentee ballot operations for the November election.
The state sent absentee ballot request forms to its 6.9 million active registered voters.
Ultimately, 1.6 million absentee ballots were sent out, meaning that some 657,000 have not been returned, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
It’s not clear how many of those voters experienced delays in receiving their ballots that will prevent them from submitting them in time — a problem that plagued Washington, D.C. voters and some voters in Pennsylvania, where absentee voting skyrocketed in last week’s primary.
Jeff Ellington — the president of Runbeck Election Services, which Georgia hired to send out its mail-in ballots — told TPM Monday that his company sent out the last batch of ballots on June 1, having received the final tranche of absentee voter data from the state a few days prior to that.
Georgia’s election so far has not gone without its hiccups.
There was evidence of racial disparities in how was requesting to vote absentee, according to a Brennan Center analysis, while black voters reportedly made up a disproportionate percentage of the voters casting in-person early ballots.
There were major lines at early voting sites on Friday, with some voters waiting for more than six hours to cast a ballot. Georgia, like many states, has had to reduce polling places because of the challenges COVID-19 poses, and social distancing requirements further limited the number of people who could be inside the voting sites that remained open.
Meanwhile, absentee voters in Fulton County, the most populous county in Georgia, experienced notable delays in receiving their mail-in ballots, causing confusion. The delay was caused in part by the elections office being closed for several days after an employee died of COVID-19. Election officials also blamed technical issues in processing ballot requests submitted by mail, according to an AP report.