Record turnout for early voting in Macon
Nearly 200 people have had problems with their absentee ballots in Macon-Bibb County this election season.
As of this week, about 175 voters had their initial absentee ballots not counted, although in some cases they later voted in person or requested a new ballot. At least 48 of them had their ballots rejected for not signing an oath, some of whom are unaware their votes were not cast.
People can apply for absentee ballots through Friday, but that will be “cutting it close,” since the ballots have to be returned to the elections office by Tuesday evening, Macon-Bibb Elections Superintendent Jeanetta Watson said.
It’s common for a batch of absentee ballots to be rejected, she said.
When an absentee ballot is not counted, then that registered voter has to restart the process of applying for a ballot. A letter is sent to those registered voters letting them know of the situation.
“What happens is we check the signature when it returns,” Watson said. “We can’t just open the ballot. They have to sign the outside of the ballot and verify that’s the person asking for the ballot.”
In response, the NAACP is contacting as many voters as possible with rebuffed ballots. People who have questions about whether their absentee ballots have been counted can contact the NAACP at 478-745-9944. The organization is also offering rides to the polls on Friday and on Election Day.
“The ones we’re focusing on right now are the ones who turned in an application and it was denied because they did not sign the oath, said Gwenette Westbrooks, president of the local NAACP chapter.
While absentee ballots usually represent a small portion of overall voters, early voting has generated a strong turnout in Macon. Through Wednesday, more than 24,000 of Bibb’s 80,000-plus registered voters had voted in this election. The early voting period ends Friday.