by Robin Kemp

The special election to fill the late Rep. John Lewis’ seat in Congress takes place Sept. 25. If you want to vote absentee, now is the time to get your absentee ballot application and fill it out so that you get your paper ballot on time. If you haven’t registered to vote yet, you have until Aug. 31 if you hope to vote for that member of Congress who will finish out Lewis’ term. If you want to vote in the Nov. 3 Presidential election, you must register by Oct. 5.

What’s more, you might want to consider placing your advance/absentee ballot in the county’s drop box at the old courthouse in downtown Jonesboro.

As members of Congress call for an investigation into claims that the U.S. Post Office has been ordered to slow down mail delivery–amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the lead-up to the November presidential election–a source tells The Clayton Crescent that the main post office on Crown Road has allegedly dismantled 18 mail sorting machines, leaving 12 to process incoming mail.

The source pointed out that Atlanta is also a major hub for mail distribution to other parts of the United States.

The Clayton Crescent has asked a USPS spokesperson to comment on the allegation and on the Postal Service’s plans to handle any anticipated increase in mail-in ballots due to COVID-19. We’ll update with any response.

This will be the first Presidential election using Georgia’s new touchscreen machines that prints out a piece of paper showing how you voted. That is not a paper ballot, strictly speaking. You place that printout into another machine, which scans a QR code that is supposed to reflect the choices you see on that paper. Proponents say this makes your vote more secure because both the digital and the paper choices can be checked. Opponents say the machines are less secure because it’s impossible for humans to read a QR code and they just have to trust that the QR code matches the names and choices on the printout.

People who are at increased risk of COVID-19 or who have physical limitations that make it difficult to get to the polls may want to bypass the machines entirely and send in a paper absentee/advance “mail-in” ballot. If you want to put it in the mail, do not wait. Get it done as soon as possible. No one knows whether ballots will take longer to get to elections officials. Members of Congress are demanding that the new Postmaster General testify on Capitol Hill about this very subject next week.

If you can’t or don’t want to vote at your local polling place because of COVID-19, or for any other reason, you can request an absentee/advance ballot application (online or in person), fill it out, and either mail or hand-deliver it to the Elections and Registration Office at the Old Courthouse in downtown Jonesboro. They will send your application to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, which in turn will mail you a paper/advance/ absentee ballot. You (or in some cases, your authorized person) can then fill out the ballot. Seal it in the envelope according to the instructions.

Absentee ballots sealed in their envelopes.

Then, if you don’t want to mail your ballot, you can take your ballot to the secure ballot box on the side of the Old Courthouse Building next to the parking lot. It looks like a big silver mailbox and there are security cameras monitoring it. Place your ballot in the slot and make sure it goes in all the way. Each day, the Clayton County Elections Office removes and counts the ballots received and updates that total on its website.

This is the Clayton County secure ballot box outside the Old Courthouse in Jonesboro. Note the security camera over the ballot box.

Who’s running for Rep. Lewis’ seat? Here’s the official list of qualified candidates from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. We’ve added links to Ballotpedia bios on each candidate:

ROBERT M. FRANKLIN
4700 GUILFORD FOREST DR SW
ATLANTA GA 30331 – 7394
E-mail: rfrank222@aol.com
PHONE NUMBER: (404) 691-8733
PARTY: DEMOCRATIC
INCUMBENT: NO
OCCUPATION: PROFESSOR
QUALIFIED DATE: 07/31/2020
WEBSITE: www.robertmfranklin.com
KWANZA HALLPARTY: DEMOCRATIC
INCUMBENT: NO
OCCUPATION: COMMUNITY DEVELOPER
QUALIFIED DATE: 07/31/2020
BARRINGTON D. MARTIN II
2700 JACANAR LN SW
ATLANTA GA 30331
E-mail: barrington@barringtonvscongress.com
PHONE NUMBER: (678) 464-3148
PARTY: DEMOCRATIC
INCUMBENT: NO
OCCUPATION: EDUCATOR
QUALIFIED DATE: 07/31/2020
WEBSITE: votethedream.com
STEVEN MUHAMMAD
2824 CHURCH ST
EAST POINT GA 30349
E-mail: muhammadforcongress@gmail.com
PHONE NUMBER: (404) 903-8708
PARTY: INDEPENDENT
INCUMBENT: NO
OCCUPATION: COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
QUALIFIED DATE: 07/31/2020
WEBSITE: www.muhammadforcongress.com
CHASE OLIVERPARTY: LIBERTARIAN
INCUMBENT: NO
OCCUPATION: CUSTOMER SERVICE IMPORT COORDINATOR
QUALIFIED DATE: 07/31/2020
WEBSITE: chaseforhouse.com
“ABLE” MABLE THOMAS
765 JONES AVE NW
ATLANTA GA 30314 – 3824
E-mail: mthomas949@gmail.com
PHONE NUMBER: (404) 921-8681
PARTY: DEMOCRATIC
INCUMBENT: NO
OCCUPATION: PROGRAM DEVELOPER
QUALIFIED DATE: 07/31/2020
WEBSITE: www.ablemable.com
KEISHA SEAN WAITES
PO BOX 162972
ATLANTA GA 30321
E-mail: seanwaites@hotmail.com
PHONE NUMBER: (404) 538-3479
PARTY: DEMOCRATIC
INCUMBENT: NO
OCCUPATION: CONSULTANT/FORMER STATE REPRESENTATIVE
QUALIFIED DATE: 07/31/2020
WEBSITE: www.keishawaites.com

Check your voter registration status, polling place, elected officials, and absentee ballot status with the Georgia Secretary of State’s My Voter Page

Watch a USPS video from 2014 that explains how the Postal Service sorts and delivers mail:

Check out a list of upcoming elections and registration deadlines from the Clayton County Elections and Registration Office, especially if you’re a new voter or will be turning 18 soon.

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