But the new law sought to rein in their use, capping the number of drop boxes at one per 100,000 registered voters in a county — which could cut the amount of drop boxes in urban areas by as much as two-thirds — and limiting their availability to office hours. The law did, however, codify drop boxes as an option for voters into state election law.
Overall turnout for absentee voting has been difficult to parse so far.
During the 2020 election, when voters turned en masse to mail ballots because of the pandemic, more than 1.1 million Georgians voted by mail in the primary, and in 2018, fewer than 30,000 voted absentee. This year, more than 61,000 voted absentee in the primary, an increase over 2018 but less than 10 percent of the 2020 totals.
Voters in primaries also tend to be more motivated and engaged than general-election voters, and they are more likely to be aware of new rules and willing to work through them to cast ballots.
“The people who are highly engaged are the people who are voting in primaries, and those highly engaged people are often most equipped to get around any sort of change to voting,” said Michael McDonald, a voter turnout expert at the University of Florida.
Gov. Brian Kemp, campaigning in the final days of his Republican primary race for governor, condemned Democrats for their criticism of the law, suggesting that their claims that it was “suppressive” were hyperbolic and politically motivated.
Understand the Battle Over U.S. Voting Rights
Why are voting rights an issue now? In 2020, as a result of the pandemic, millions embraced voting early in person or by mail, especially among Democrats. Spurred on by Donald Trump’s false claims about mail ballots in hopes of overturning the election, the G.O.P. has pursued a host of new voting restrictions.
“They don’t want to know what the truth is,” he told supporters on Saturday in Watkinsville, Ga. “They don’t care what the truth is. They want to talk about the narrative that drives their base and helps their political polling.”
Mr. Kemp and other Georgia Republicans have often brushed aside Democratic criticisms of the new law, noting that some provisions in fact allow greater voting access than in some blue states. Georgia’s new law requires a minimum of 17 days of early voting, with a county-level option for two more days through Sunday voting. New York and New Jersey, by contrast, offer nine days of early voting.