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Georgia State Code
Title      21
Chapter       2  
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Section<<< 380 380.1 381 381.1 382 383 384 385 386 387 >>>  
Title 21, Chapter 2, Section 386 (21-2-386)

(a)(1) The board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk shall keep safely and unopened all official absentee ballots received from absentee electors prior to the closing of the polls on the day of the primary or election except as otherwise provided in this subsection. Upon receipt of each ballot, a registrar or clerk shall write the day and hour of the receipt of the ballot on its envelope. The registrar or clerk shall then compare the identifying information on the oath with the information on file in his or her office, shall compare the signature or mark on the oath with the signature or mark on the absentee elector's application for absentee ballot or a facsimile of said signature or mark taken from said application, and shall, if the information and signature appear to be valid, so certify by signing or initialing his or her name below the voter's oath. Each elector's name so certified shall be listed by the registrar or clerk on the numbered list of absentee voters prepared for his or her precinct. If the elector has failed to sign the oath, or if the signature does not appear to be valid, or if the elector has failed to furnish required information or information so furnished does not conform with that on file in the registrar's or clerk's office, or if the elector is otherwise found disqualified to vote, the registrar or clerk shall write across the face of the envelope "Rejected," giving the reason therefor. The board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk shall promptly notify the elector of such rejection, a copy of which notification shall be retained in the files of the board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk for at least one year. Three copies of the numbered list of voters shall also be prepared for such rejected absentee electors, giving the name of the elector and the reason for the rejection in each case. Three copies of the numbered list of certified absentee voters and three copies of the numbered list of rejected absentee voters for each precinct shall be turned over to the poll manager in charge of counting the absentee ballots and shall be distributed as required by law for numbered lists of voters. All absentee ballots returned to the board or absentee ballot clerk after the closing of the polls on the day of the primary or election shall be safely kept unopened by the board or absentee ballot clerk for the period of time required for the preservation of ballots used at the primary or election and shall then, without being opened, be destroyed in like manner as the used ballots of the primary or election. The board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk shall promptly notify the elector by first-class mail that the elector's ballot was returned too late to be counted and that the elector will not receive credit for voting in the primary or election.

(2) After 12:00 Noon and until the closing of the polls on the day of the primary or election, the registrars or absentee ballot clerks shall be authorized to open the outer envelope on which is printed the oath of the elector in such a manner as not to destroy the oath printed thereon; provided, however, that the registrars or absentee ballot clerk shall not be authorized to remove the contents of such outer envelope or to open the inner envelope marked "Official Absentee Ballot," except as otherwise provided in this Code section. At least three persons who are registrars, deputy registrars, poll workers, or absentee ballot clerks must be present before commencing.

(3) If the election superintendent desires to open the inner envelopes containing the absentee ballots after 3:00 P.M., but before 7:00 P.M., on the day of the election, the election superintendent shall petition in writing the chief judge of the superior court of the county or, if such judge is a candidate in such election, such petition shall be submitted to the administrative judge of the judicial administrative district in which such county is located who shall assign such petition to a judge of the district who is not a candidate in such election at least seven days prior to the election for permission to open the inner envelopes in accordance with the procedures prescribed in this subsection. Such petition shall contain the names of persons designated to act as monitors of the process of opening the inner envelopes by the election superintendent or his or her designee. The county executive committee or, if there is no organized county executive committee, the state executive committee of each political party and political body having candidates whose names appear on the ballot for such election in such county shall have the right to designate two persons and each independent and nonpartisan candidate whose name appears on the ballot for such election in such county shall have the right to designate one person to act as monitors. Such executive committees and candidates shall be given notice by the election superintendent of the superintendent's intent to request permission to open the inner envelopes early and their right to designate monitors. The executive committees and candidates shall be given at least seven days after the notice by the election superintendent to designate monitors for inclusion in the petition.

(4) The chief judge, after considering the petition, shall authorize the opening of the inner envelope of the absentee ballots provided that the names of the persons to serve as monitors on behalf of the political parties, political bodies, independent candidates, and nonpartisan candidates are submitted in the petition by the election superintendent. The judge shall:

(A) Designate the location where the inner envelopes shall be opened within the county;

(B) Designate additional monitors for the process to be present during the opening of the inner envelopes, if the judge deems such persons necessary;

(C) Administer an oath to each person who shall serve as a monitor and to each election official who shall participate in any manner in the process of opening the inner envelopes to which such persons shall swear or affirm that no inner envelopes shall be opened unless all monitors are present in the location designated by the judge, unless such monitor shall specifically give his or her permission for such process to continue in his or her absence; that no attempt shall be made to ascertain how any ballot was voted or to view the contents of any ballot; that no monitor shall handle, touch, or possess any ballot; and that no discussion of the procedure or of anything viewed during the opening of the envelopes will be held with any person who is not a part of the opening process before 7:00 P.M. on the day of the election;

(D) Designate no less than two persons to take possession of and keep secure all such opened envelopes and ballots at all times prior to such envelopes and ballots being released to the manager of the absentee ballot precinct for counting; and

(E) Provide such additional conditions and requirements as he or she deems necessary to preserve the integrity and confidentiality of such process, including instructions to monitors and election officials for the reporting of any unauthorized activity.

Intentional and willful violation of such oath shall be a felony punishable pursuant to Code Section 21-2-600.

(5) The process for opening the inner envelopes of absentee ballots after 12:00 Noon and before 7:00 P.M. on the day of an election as provided in this subsection shall be a confidential process to maintain the secrecy of all ballots and to protect the disclosure of any balloting information before 7:00 P.M. on election day. No ballots shall be counted before 7:00 P.M. on election day.

(b) As soon as practicable after 12:00 Noon on the day of the primary or election, in precincts other than those in which vote recorders or optical scanning tabulators are used, a registrar or absentee ballot clerk shall deliver the official absentee ballot of each certified absentee elector, each rejected absentee ballot, applications for such ballots, and copies of the numbered lists of certified and rejected absentee electors to the manager in charge of the absentee ballot precinct of the county, which shall be located in the precincts containing the county courthouse or polling place designated by the municipal superintendent. In those precincts in which vote recorders or optical scanning tabulators are used, such absentee ballots shall be taken to the tabulation center or other place designated by the superintendent, and the official receiving such absentee ballots shall issue his or her receipt therefor. In no event shall the counting of the ballots begin before the polls close.

(c) Except as otherwise provided in this Code section, after the close of the polls on the day of the primary or election, a manager shall then open the outer envelope in such manner as not to destroy the oath printed thereon and shall deposit the inner envelope marked "Official Absentee Ballot" in a ballot box reserved for absentee ballots. Such manager with two assistant managers, appointed by the superintendent, with such clerks as the manager deems necessary shall count the absentee ballots following the procedures prescribed by this chapter for other ballots, insofar as practicable, and prepare an election return for the county or municipality showing the results of the absentee ballots cast in such county or municipality.

(d) Any other provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, if at any primary, general, or special election in any county any question is to be voted on involving any political subdivision which includes less than the entire county, all absentee ballots shall be separated by precinct for counting purposes; and separate returns shall be certified for each precinct in which absentee ballots were cast.

(e) If an absentee elector's right to vote has been challenged for cause, a poll officer shall open the envelopes and write "Challenged," the elector's name, and the alleged cause of challenge on the back of the ballot, without disclosing the markings on the face thereof, and shall deposit the ballot in the box; and it shall be counted as other challenged ballots are counted. The board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk shall promptly notify the elector of such challenge.

Saturday May 23 14:29 EDT


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