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Some Central Georgia elections boards deal with influx of mail-in ballots

So far, Macon-Bibb County has processed over 15,700 mail-in ballots this election, according to board supervisor Jeanetta Watson

MACON, Ga. — Some county Boards of Elections are dealing with an influx of mail-in ballots after they were sent to every registered voter in Georgia.

Just on Wednesday, Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections processed 1,200 absentee ballots, all gearing up for the primary that will now be held in June.

"We're getting hundreds of mail a day, hundreds of pieces of mail," said Jeanetta Watson, supervisor of Macon-Bibb County's Board of Elections. "We're processing them as quickly as we can get them processed."

According to Watson, the county has processed over 15,700 mail-in ballots this election, and they're still coming in. So far, Watson says her office is keeping up.

"The biggest hit we got was when they first came out. That's the largest quantity that we would get at one time -- when they're hot," Watson said. 

Meanwhile, election workers are taking precautions against COVID-19. During a normal election, Watson says the atmosphere is like an assembly line, but now, workers are spaced apart. Many are wearing gloves as they handle the mail. 

"Because of the crisis, we have to work around minimizing the number of workers that are working because of social distancing," Watson said. "If we weren't dealing with the social distancing, I'd have a lot more. I would have as many people as I could cram in here."

For local boards of elections across the state, it's a race against time to get all the ballots processed for the June 9 primary. 

"If I have to start bringing staff in at different shifts, even through the night, I would hate to go that route, but if we would have to do that to meet the stringent deadline, I don't know what else I'd do," Watson said. 

Watson says election officials are facing more challenges than ever -- dealing with new technology, taking precautions to protect voters and election workers, and now, processing all those mail-in ballots. 

"We're getting over the obstacles. We're getting it done. We're working very efficiently," Watson said. 

On top of processing these absentee ballots, the local board is getting ready for early voting that's just a little over three weeks away.

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