WASHINGTON — Overseas voters registered in Georgia will be receiving ballots in the next few days for the state’s U.S. Senate runoff election, but it might not be soon enough to have their vote counted.

Georgia election officials automatically mailed out the absentee ballots this week to overseas military who voted in the presidential election, so they could help decide the race between incumbent Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Democratic challenger Jim Martin.

The runoff, set for Dec. 2, is being held because while Chambliss received nearly 110,000 more votes than Martin in the November election, he did not receive the state-required 50 percent of the total votes cast to win the office.

Matt Carrothers, spokesman for the Georgia Secretary of State, said the absentee ballots were mailed out as soon as the language was finalized in order to give all residents a chance to vote.

However, the ballots must be delivered to polling places no later than Dec. 5, creating a problem for overseas military who may not receive the ballots until around Thanksgiving.

Overseas Georgia voters were provided a statewide write-in ballot with their November ballot, and if they held on to the document it can be used to cast a vote in the runoff, Carrothers said.

In addition, the Overseas Vote Foundation, a nonprofit voter advocacy group, has posted an online federal write-in absentee ballot that Georgia voters can use in lieu of waiting for the official ballot.

In a press release this week OVF head Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat said an estimated 173,000 overseas and military voters are eligible to vote in the runoff.

"This is a race of razor-thin margins that may be determined by the turnout of overseas and military voters," she said in a statement. "Voters must act now to get their ballots back in time."

Georgia does not allow any online voting or faxing of ballots.

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