Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Oconee County Has Adopted New Procedures For Early Voting In Response To Pandemic

***PPE Purchased; Secure Drop Box Installed***

The county has put into place a series of precautions as early voting for the postponed June 9 Democratic and Republican primaries and the nonpartisan judicial races begins at 8 a.m. on Monday and runs through June 5.

A plexiglass screen has been installed at the Oconee County Board of Elections and Registration Office across from the Courthouse in downtown Watkinsville, separating office workers and voters to protect both from COVID-19 as the voting process begins.

Only four people will be allowed in the lobby at a time, Fran Leathers, director of Oconee County Elections and Registration, told the other members of the Board of Elections and Registration at their meeting last week. Leathers chairs that Board.

The county has received a $3,000 grant as part the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress on March 27 for purchase of Personal Protection Equipment by election workers, Leathers said.

The equipment will be used both during early voting and during the actual election on June 9, according to Leathers.

The county also has installed a secure drop box with a surveillance camera in front of the Board of Elections and Registration Office at 10 Court Street so voters who asked for an absentee ballot can drop off their ballots rather than put them in to the mail or bring them to the office.

Early Voting Details

Early voting will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays during the May 18 to June 5 period at the Elections and Registration Office, with the exception of Memorial Day, May 25, when that office will be closed.

Secure Drop Box

Early voting also will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 30.

On election day, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Voters who have not already voted in the postponed March 24 presidential primary will be able to cast a ballot in that election as well as in the party primaries originally scheduled for May 19.

Nonpartisan judicial races also are on the ballot.

Leathers told me in an email message on Wednesday that “We were able to purchase all of the PPE that we need.”

“We will use what we have purchased for Early voting and Election Day,” she said.

Voting Data

The deadline for registration was May 11, and Leathers told me on Monday that she did not have a final figure for the number of registered voters.

“It will be another week or so due to the fact that we have to wait on any mail that might be postmarked with today's date,” she said in her email message on Monday.

At the Board of Elections and Registration meeting on May 5, Leathers reported that 30,385 active and inactive voters were on the county’s voter list.

At that meeting, Leathers told the Board of Elections and Registration members said that 1,685 of Oconee County’s voters already had cast a ballot in the Presidential Primary, originally scheduled for March 24 and postponed after two weeks of early voting.

Of those votes, 1,486 were cast in person and 199 were cast by mail.

Ballots Selected In Early Voting

Leathers told the Board, meeting at the Election and Registration Office that 929 of the votes cast in person in the Presidential Primary were with a Democratic ballot and 557 were with a Republican Ballot.

The 199 mail-in ballots broke down to 128 using a Democratic ballot and 71 using a Republican ballot.

Leathers said on Wednesday that one additional Democratic mail-in ballot has been returned since the meeting.

So total early voting was 1,058 with Democratic ballots and 628 with Republican ballots.

Absentee Ballot Requests

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger sent all active voters on Georgia an application for an absentee ballot for the June 9 election to decrease the likelihood of spreading the novel coronavirus.

At the meeting on May 5, Leathers reported that her office had received 6,040 requests for absentee ballots for the June 9 election and already had received 295 completed ballots.

Leathers updated those figures on Wednesday.

As of May 12, she said, her officer had issued a total of 8,895 ballots and received back 1,519 completed ballots.

That breaks down to 2,716 Democratic ballots issued, with 683 completed Democratic ballots returned, 5,909 Republican ballots issued and 773 Republican ballots returned, and 270 nonpartisan ballots issued and 63 returned.

Those who requested a nonpartisan ballot only will not participate in the party primaries and only vote in the nonpartisan judicial races. Those with partisan ballots also receive the nonpartisan ballot.

Leathers estimated she still had about 100 ballot requests to process.

Secure Drop Box

At the May 5 meeting, Leathers reported that the secure drop box her office had received was damaged and had to be returned.

Leathers said on Wednesday “We were able to repair the damage” and use the shipped box.

It was installed on May 6, Leathers said.

“As of this morning, we have received 162 ballots in the Drop Box!”

The box sits in front of the Board of Elections and Registration office and is monitored by a camera.


The five members of the Board of Elections and Registration met in person in the meeting room of the Board of Elections and Registration Office on May 5.

The meeting was live streamed on Facebook.

Some technical difficulties created problems with the video at the beginning of the meeting.

I edited out that section of the video, created a still image, and placed the still image over the audio until the video image was stable.

The edited video is below.

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