Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told reporters on Tuesday that his office is investigating 1,000 possible cases of “double voting” from this summer’s primary and runoff elections.
Raffensperger, who didn’t cite specific instances of potential voter fraud, said the state would seek to prosecute offenders.
Georgia, like all states that have both in-person and mail-in voting options, have safeguards in place to prevent voters from casting two ballots..
“When voters who have requested absentee ballots show up at the polls to vote in-person, poll workers are supposed to call the county elections office to determine if the voter’s mail ballot has been counted, before the voter casts a ballot at the polls,” according to Common Cause Georgia, a nonpartisan organization that tries to build public participation in government.
The Georgia primary was notable for long lines and lost mail-in ballots, creating confusion.
“At the end of the day, the voter was responsible and the voters know what they were doing,” Raffensperger said. “A double voter knows exactly what they were doing, diluting the votes of each and every voter that follows the law.”
Common Cause Georgia executive director Aunna Dennis agreed that violations should be punished, but added that the confusion might have caused some to unintentionally violate the law. The date of the Georgia primary was moved twice due to the coronavirus.
“We wholeheartedly agree that people who intentionally vote twice should be subject to the usual criminal penalties for election law violations,” Dennis said. “But we are concerned that voters who were simply trying to vote may get caught up in the dragnet. There was a lot of confusion about the presidential primary, which was rescheduled after some voters had already cast mail ballots – but when those voters wanted to vote in the state primary, they received ballots that also included the race. Did that count as “voting twice”?
Dennis placed blame on Raffensperger for allegedly sowing distruct in the electoral process.
“Voters also should not be subjected to inflammatory allegations by the state’s top elections officials,” Dennis said. “Secretary Raffensperger has been looking for reasons to cast doubt on Georgia’s mail-in ballot system for months. He would have served us all better if he had invested that time and energy into preventing the problems that occurred in June.”
Last week, President Donald Trump told a North Carolina news outlet that voters should test election safeguards by voting both in person and via mail, something which could cause voters legal issues.
Trump has expressed doubt in mail-in voting during the 2020 election cycle, claiming that mail-in voting is prone to fraud. But many states, some of which are led by Republicans, are ramping up mail-in voting efforts. Proponents of mail-in voting say that it is a safer alternative than in-person voting given the coronavirus pandemic.
The president, speaking to a reporter from WECT, said he wanted voters to test the state’s safeguards.
“So let them send it in and let them go vote, and if their system’s as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote,” Trump told WECT. “If it isn’t tabulated, they’ll be able to vote. So that’s the way it is. And that’s what they should do.”