Georgia elections officials working to ensure Hurricane Ian doesn’t interfere with early voting

Channel 2 Action News has learned that state voting officials are preparing for threats the storm’s aftermath might pose on voting in Georgia.

Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Mark Winne was in Cobb County, where one concern involved special security paper for ballots.

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Back in May, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office sent a trailer outfitted as a mobile voting location to Bryan County to cope with the aftermath of a devastating tornado.

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Now, with an election soon after a hurricane in the southeast, the office is thinking about contingencies again.

“If you remember back in the primary we had in the spring, we actually sent a mobile unit down to Bryan County,” Raffensperger said. They had a government facility that was totally demolished because of a tornado that spun out of a hurricane, so those are the type of things we’ll be looking for.”

Interim Deputy Secretary of State Gabriel Sterling said that for all the resources the office puts into preventing human interference with the elections, the possibility of weather interference this fall is a big concern today.

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He said the office is working with counties that might be impacted by Ian to make sure they can complete all the testing legally required to be ready for early voting.

Sterling said absentee ballots are supposed to go out in less than two weeks, and must be equivalent to paper ballots for in-person polling locations and printed on special security paper.

“We’ve even seen in high-humidity areas that water can potentially affect the ability to scan easily some of these ballots, so we’re already working with the counties to tell them to secure their security paper,” Sterling said. “And we’re dealing with our vendor to make sure that if there is any damage in these counties, that we can get new security paper in time for the election.”

Election Day came weeks after the tornado hit Bryan County, but the damage was so severe that the Secretary of State’s Office sent an emergency voting trailer to help out.

Sterling said that the last few days have been about preparing and coordinating. By Monday, they should have a clear picture of the situation on the ground and whether any special steps are needed to ensure the election comes off as it should in the aftermath of the storm.