ATLANTA -- Georgia voters will soon be able to go online to order an absentee ballot for the November presidential election, according to a rule the State Election Board approved Monday.
The board voted unanimously to create the absentee ballot application website, which is planned to go live by the end of this month.
The website will help voters participate in this year's presidential election without having to visit a polling place during the coronavirus pandemic.
Voting from home became popular in Georgia's primary, when nearly half of voters cast absentee ballots. The trend continued in advance of Tuesday's runoffs, with 60% of early voters submitting absentee ballots through Sunday.
"We need to get this out there, get this system online and go live so that the voters of Georgia can access it," State Election Board member Anh Le said.
The online absentee ballot application process will avoid some of the problems seen during Georgia's primary, when some voters who emailed absentee ballot request forms never received their ballots. Through the website, election officials are less likely to overlook paper or email applications.
Georgia law has allowed any voter to request an absentee ballot since 2005, but before this year, that method of voting was generally used by only about 5% of voters in each election.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger encouraged absentee voting before the primary election, mailing absentee ballot applications to Georgia's 6.9 million active voters. Over 1.1 million people voted absentee in the primary.
Citing the program's cost, Raffensperger has said he won't conduct a similar mass mailing of absentee ballot request forms for the general election, replacing that program with the upcoming website. In addition to the website, voters will still have the option to print out and mail paper absentee ballot requests.
State Election Board member David Worley supported the website but said Raffensperger should mail absentee ballot applications as well.