ATLANTA- Of Georgia’s estimated seven million voters, only 1.3 million cast absentee and early ballots. The Secretary of State’s office says voters should anticipate long lines at polling stations today.

State leader say the pandemic resulted in a ten-fold increase in absentee ballots, but recent protests could motive more people to get out and vote today.

“People who participate in protests are politically-activated and it has positive voter mobilization benefits,” said Emory University Assistant Political Science Professor Andra Gillespie.

One in every four Georgia counties will scan absentee ballots early because of the sheer volume, but the votes won’t be tallied until after polls close this evening.

“Election officials often use volunteers and many may not be available because of their age or health status,” said Gillespie.

Health experts say if you vote in person, try to stand 6 feet apart in line.  Also, try to pick a time when it may be less crowded.  They also recommend wearing a mask.

“As we have learned more about COVID, outside is safer than inside because you have better air flow and not in an enclosed space,” said Marybeth Sexton, Division of Infectious Diseases, Emory University School of Medicine.

Sexton also offers this advice:  “If you stand a part as far as possible, wear a mask, avoid touching surfaces and hand sanitize after, it’s possible to do this safely. Try to bring anything you may need, a pen,  so you don’t have to touch one that others have touched as well.”

Other Georgia Primary Election Day Facts:

  • Georgia implemented 30,000 new voting machines at the start of the election cycle at a price tag of $150 million dollars.
  • The pandemic has forced about 10% of precincts to consolidate, so Georgia now has around 244 precincts open for election day.
  • Election leaders have asked polling centers to space out voters so they can practice social distancing.

Some of today’s big races: