Judge orders Georgia to extend deadline for absentee ballots

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ATLANTA (AP) — A federal judge has ordered Georgia to extend its deadline for accepting mail-in ballots for November’s general election from the close of polls on Election Day until three days later.

Georgia law says absentee ballots must be received by the close of polls on Election Day.

U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross on Monday ordered that deadline extended until 7 p.m. three business days later, as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.

The secretary of state’s office says it plans to immediately appeal the ruling.

The Democratic Party of Georgia considered the judge’s ruling a victory. Chairwoman Nikema Williams said in a news release, “Today’s decision is a huge victory for Georgia voters, and a huge win in the fight for every vote to be counted. All Georgians deserve to have their voice heard, and in the midst of a global pandemic, it is the responsibility of our democracy to make voting by mail and early voting options as accessible as possible. Today’s win is a great first step, and Georgia Democrats will keep fighting to help every voter cast their ballot without issue.”

Williams’ statement continued, “We continue to encourage all voters to cast their ballots as early as possible, whether that’s requesting an absentee ballot today, or early voting. Our voter protection hotline continues to be available for all voters with questions about casting their ballot at 888-730-5816.”

If you’d like to vote-by-mail, you will need to request an absentee ballot. Registered Georgia voters can request absentee/mail-in ballots on this website created by the Georgia Secretary of State: https://ballotrequest.sos.ga.gov/.