Secretary of State Raffensperger Working with GEMA/HS to Keep Elections Workers Safe from COVID-19

Staff Report

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is working with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency to keep Georgia’s poll workers and elections officials safe from COVID-19. Raffensperger coordinated with county elections officials to request masks, face shields, gloves, and disinfecting wipes to protect both elections staff and voters in November. GEMA/HS has agreed to fulfill the full request and will ship the requested PPE directly to county elections officials.

“In-person voting remains an important way for Georgia voters to access the ballot so I am doing whatever I can to make that experience safe and easy,” said Raffensperger. “I want to thank GEMA for their past and continued support of Georgia’s elections with much-needed personal protective equipment. This will enable our poll workers and local officials to provide safe and secure ballot access to the millions of in-person voters expected in November.”

The Office of the Secretary of State is working with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency to provide additional PPE to local elections officials and poll workers for elections in November. The Office of the Secretary sent a message to county elections soliciting requests for PPE late last week.

A total of 153 counties are requesting more PPE through the Office of the Secretary of State and GEMA/HS. Altogether, Georgia’ elections officials are requesting 180,000 masks, 46,700 face shields, 4,700 packages of gloves, and 10,100 boxes of disinfecting wipes.

Shortly after the request was made, GEMA/HS said they would be able to fulfill the requests and would ship the requested PPE directly to county election officials for use on election day.

The PPE request comes on top of an order for 11,000 gallons of hand sanitizer that the Office of the Secretary of State placed earlier this year. The hand sanitizer will be distributed to the counties ahead of the November elections.

Earlier this year, GEMA/HS provided 84,000 masks, 290,000 gloves, and hand sanitizer for county elections officials ahead of the June 9 election. The Office of the Secretary of State coordinated the order and distributed it to county elections officials.

In addition, before the June 9 elections, the Secretary of State’s office purchased and distributed 35,000 masks, hundreds of thousands of gloves, 27,500 bottles of hand-sanitizer, and 60,000 stylus pens for voters to use when they voted. The Secretary of State’s office also provided $3,000 dollar grants to Georgia’s counties to purchase additional PPE on their own.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and record absentee ballot votes cast by mail, significant numbers of Georgia voters turned out in-person to vote. On June 9, 810,000 Georgia voters went to the polls to cast their ballot. An additional 325,000 cast their ballots early and in-person during the state’s three weeks of early voting.

Voter turnout in November is expected to be three times as high.