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Georgia presidential primaries, DeKalb Sheriff race postponed until May due to coronavirus

Avondale Estates campaign coverage COVID-19 Crime and public safety Decatur Kirkwood Metro ATL Trending Tucker

Georgia presidential primaries, DeKalb Sheriff race postponed until May due to coronavirus

Lavista Hills supporters sport I'm a Georgia Voter stickers. File Photo: Jonathan Phillips
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This story has been updated. 

DeKalb County, GA – Georgia is postponing the March 24 presidential primary to May 19, which is the date of Georgia’s general election primary, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

That means the election for the DeKalb County Sheriff, previously scheduled for March 24, will be held on May 19.

The news also was confirmed by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

A source familiar with the situation told Decaturish that people who already have voted early in the March 24 presidential primary will receive a different ballot on May 19. The source said if you voted early in the March 24 presidential primary and March 24 election for DeKalb County Sheriff, you will only be allowed to cast a ballot for the other candidates on the May 19 ballot, which includes the local state legislative and County Commission races. If you haven’t already voted early in the March 24 presidential primary and March 24 Sheriff’s election, your ballot on May 19 will include the March 24 presidential primary and March 24 Sheriff’s race.

When asked how elected officials will know who gets which ballot on May 19, the source said everyone is assigned a ballot code and if you voted early in the March 24 primary, your code reflects that you’ve voted.

All early voting in DeKalb County has stopped for now.

Here is the full announcement from the Secretary of State’s Office:

Secretary of State Raffensperger postpones the Presidential Preference Primary 

In light of the public health emergency posed by COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, in-person voting presents increased risk to voters and poll workers.  Governor Kemp has declared a public health emergency.  President Trump has declared a national emergency, said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “Events are moving rapidly and my highest priority is protecting the health of our poll workers, their families, and the community at large.”

“Our priority is to protect the health and safety of all Georgians and to ensure that as many Georgians as possible have an opportunity to vote,” said State Senator Nikema Williams, the Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia.  “Continued in-person voting could compromise both goals. Georgians who have already cast their vote in person or by mail for the March 24 primary will be able to vote again in the May 19 primary for the elections already scheduled for that date.  If Georgians who have already cast their vote for the March 24 primary do not vote again in the May 19 primary, their votes for the presidential preference primary will still count.”

Secretary Raffensperger said that all votes already cast in person and all absentee ballots will be counted and every Georgia voter that has not yet had a chance to cast a ballot in the March 24 elections will be able to do so on May 19, along with the elections already scheduled for that date.”

“Given these circumstances, I believe it is necessary and prudent to suspend in-person voting in the Presidential Preference Primary, and the local elections associated with them, and resume in-person voting for those elections as part of the already scheduled May 19 General Primary.”

The CDC recommends those, including seniors, who are at greater risk from COVID-19 limit their exposure to the virus by keeping space between themselves and others, avoiding crowds, and staying at home during outbreaks in their community. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has likewise identified individuals 65-years-old and older as facing increased risk from COVID-19. He explained that older Americans infected with COVID-19 stand a greater risk of serious difficulty and even death from the virus.  All individuals should practice social distancing and minimize contact with others to minimize the risk to them and others.

With this decision, Secretary Raffensperger looks to confront the public health threat to our state, and the health of Georgians, while also maintaining an avenue for the people of Georgia to exercise their fundamental democratic right to vote. In the midst of a public health emergency like the one facing our state, taking strong action to protect all Georgians, including its dedicated poll workers, is paramount.

This is a developing story that will be updated when more information becomes available.

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