ATLANTA (AP) — Oversized envelopes are causing a delay in absentee ballots being mailed out in one Georgia county.
Gwinnett County, a heavily populated area northeast of Atlanta, is using larger envelopes after a settlement in federal court earlier this year required larger font and clearer instructions, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The settlement was reached in response to a lawsuit over the county’s comparatively high rate of absentee ballot rejections last election cycle.
The lawsuit, filed by groups including the Democratic Party of Georgia, in part challenged ballot envelopes that contained small print in order to accommodate instructions in both English and Spanish. The county is the only one in Georgia required to print election materials in both languages under federal law because of its large Spanish-speaking population.
The larger envelopes used as a result of the settlement take longer to process by a New York-based vendor used by the county, the newspaper reports.
A news release from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says Gwinnett has only been able to mail about half of the 120,000 absentee ballots that have been requested there so far.
“This is why elections administration 101 is to not change the rules in the middle of the game,” Raffensperger said in a statement. “Georgia’s elections staff and poll workers have a large enough task ahead of them executing an election during a pandemic without shortsighted and uniformed activist lawsuits burdening them with impractical bureaucratic hurdles.”
Bianca Keaton, Chair of the Gwinnett County Democratic Party, fired back in a statement Friday. “Maybe if the Secretary of State had recognized these issues beforehand, activists wouldn’t have had to act, and he wouldn’t be whining about it today,” Keaton said.