People pass a ballot box on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020 in Athens, Georgia. The box is located outside the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections office along East Washington Street. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach; @taylormckenzie_photo)

In the June primaries, 141 mail-in ballots were rejected in Athens-Clarke County. Though that’s a small portion of the 16,328 ballots that were returned — less than 1% — the ideal number of rejected ballots would be zero. 

Out of the 141 rejected ballots, seven had an invalid signature, 20 were missing a signature and 114 were received after the deadline, Charlotte Sosebee, director of elections in ACC, said in an email. 

Sosebee said the elections office reaches out to people whose ballots are missing signatures or whose signatures don’t match the one on record in an effort to get their ballots corrected before the deadline. If a ballot is received late, the office sends a letter explaining why it was rejected and the date of the next election.

In order for voters to make sure their ballots count, Sosebee said to always handle the ballot yourself from start to finish. She’s seen ballots where it was clear that someone else in the household signed the ballot. To avoid having mismatching signatures, sign the ballot yourself, Sosebee said. 

Sosebee also recommended using ballot dropboxes instead of mailing them in because the postal system can take longer to get ballots to the elections office. The county has five mail-in ballot dropbox locations. ACC’s dropboxes only accept ACC ballots, which will be delivered to the elections office within one or two days from when voters put them in, she said.

Sosebee also emphasized that voters should fill the ballot circle completely with ink to make sure their choices are counted correctly. 

A record 1.1 million voters in Georgia used absentee ballots for the June 9 primary, and even more are expected for the November general election, according to Georgia Public Broadcasting. ACC has received and processed 9,000 mail-in ballot applications already, and there are more waiting to be processed, Sosebee said. Voters can now register for an absentee ballot online using the secretary of state office’s new portal, which was rolled out on Aug. 28. 

“We could very well have received 11,000 absentee ballot applications” as of Sept. 3, Sosebee said.

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