Georgia extends deadline to accept runoff absentee ballots
ATLANTA — Georgia’s secretary of state agreed Friday to extend the deadline for accepting absentee ballots for the upcoming runoff election after the state Democratic Party filed a lawsuit saying some county election officials waited too long to send out the ballots.
Results of the Nov. 6 general election were certified on Nov. 17, but at least 65 of the state’s 159 counties didn’t send out absentee ballots for the Dec. 4 runoff until this week, according to the federal lawsuit filed Thursday. Since absentee ballots generally must be received by the time polls close on Election Day, that left some wouldbe absentee voters with less than a week to get their ballots back to election officials.
In a court filing agreeing to the extended deadline sought by the Democrats, interim Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden maintains there was no wrongdoing by state or county election officials. The proposed consent order submitted to the court Friday says absentee ballots postmarked by Dec. 4 and received by Dec. 7 will be counted.
There are two statewide races on the runoff ballot — secretary of state and a seat on the Public Service Commission. Runoff elections in Georgia are triggered when no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote.
In the secretary of state race, Brad Raffensberger, a little-known Republican state lawmaker, received about 49.1 percent of the nearly 3.9 million votes tallied, while Democrat John Barrow, a moderate former congressman, got 48.7 percent. Libertarian Smythe DuVal took about 2.2 percent.
Republican Chuck Eaton faces Democrat Lindy Miller in the PSC runoff.
The lawsuit was filed against Crittenden in her official capacity as the state’s top elections official.