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Hundreds still want to vote by mail, according to local requests

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The Athens-Clarke County Board of elections began mailing out absentee ballots on Monday

Today is the deadline for Georgia voters to register for the upcoming primary and special elections in May. Meanwhile, elections offices have begun mailing out absentee ballots.

“As of yesterday, we had received 637," says Athens-Clarke County from Board of Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee. That's the number of absentee ballot applications received so far in Athens-Clarke County.

“I believe our voters have gotten accustomed to the process of absentee voting, and have found it to be something that they prefer versus voting in person, "Sosebee says.

In our last election cycle, absentee voting was encouraged due to COVID concerns. Many Georgia voters even received ballots in the mail without requests. Contrary to only 581 absentee ballots counted in May 2018, 3,403 absentee ballots were counted in the 2020 primary. The 2020 general election saw a bump in mail-in voting with 18,674 absentee ballots counted.

In Athens, as a result of new statewide voting legislation S.B. 202, there is only one dropbox for absentee ballots located inside the downtown Board of Elections office. That same legislation makes absentee voting slightly more difficult in other ways. Voters are now required to complete the application process with pen and paper rather than solely online, though blank applications can also be requested in person at elections offices. In addition, absentee ballot requests require voters to present identification. Previously elections offices used signature matching.

May 13 is the last day to request an absentee ballot for the May 24 election. Voters can visit the Georgia My Voter Page for information on registration, polling locations and sample ballots.

Correction: In a previous version of this article, it was said that the Athens-Clarke County drop box was located outside the downtown board of elections office. It is locted inside and is only accessible during business hours.