Georgia election threats

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Voter registration

This section details threats to voters from and problems with the state's voter registration system.

Verification, database and rejection

  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Georgia's voter registration verification system as "unsatisfactory," citing, "Identifying information, including driver’s license, identification, or Social Security number, name, and date of birth, is matched against state databases. State has not specifi ed how closely the information must match, and how much discretion election officials have in determining whether a match has been made."[1]
  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Georgia's provisional ballot verification system as "mixed," citing, "Voters who cast provisional ballots because of failure to present proper identification at the polls must return to the county election office with proper identification within 48 hours of voting in order for their ballot to count. Provisional ballots cast by voters not appearing on the registration list are counted if their eligibility is verifi ed by election officials."[1]
  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Georgia's voter registration rejection system as "unsatisfactory," citing, "The Board of Registrars notifies an applicant if any required information is missing from the registration application. If the applicant does not respond within thirty days, the application is rejected."[1]
  • October 23, 2008. Due to a "computer programming glitch"[2], the Georgia Secretary of State's office sent over 2 million requests for verification to the Social Security Administration, including many duplicates. The ultimate number of distinct requests—747,106—was the second most in the nation after Alabama.

Notification and appeal

3rd party registration

NVRA implementation

Student voting rights

  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Georgia's student voting rights as "inconclusive," citing, "To vote, students need only a “present intention to remain.” Identification from a public university is acceptable; students at a private university must obtain a state “voter identification card.”"[1]

Voter education

This section details past and potential election threats caused by the state's laws, regulations and practices on voter education, how to vote, information on elections, etc.

  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Georgia's sample ballot readiness as "inconclusive".[1]
  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Georgia's language accessability readiness as "inconclusive" because information is only provided in English."[1]

Absentee and early voting

This section details problems with and threats to the state's absentee and early voting system.

  • Nov 14, 2008 - Up to 2,500 voters in Fulton County may have missed the opportunity to vote after county officials mishandled their absentee ballot requests, according to Secretary of State Karen Handel.[3] State law requires that all requests be processed within two days of receipt, and ballots mailed immediately to all eligible voters; instead, stated Secretary of State Handel in a letter to county election officials, applications remained unprocessed for 10 or more days.[3] In some cases county officials were required to send absentee ballots out via overnight mail, with some voters not receiving their ballot until election day.[3]The ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. on election day in order to be valid. [4]
  • Nov 1, 2008 - Only one county in Georgia had early voting hours today. [5] Coweta County requested and received independent federal permission to open their polls on Saturdays in 1986.[5] In 2004, 74.5% of the county's residents voted for George W. Bush. [6]
  • Oct 31, 2008 - US Rep John Lewis and other elected officials call on Secretary of State Karen Handel to extend early voting through the weekend.[7] Computer glitches have resulted in extremely long wait times, especially at Atlanta's Adamsville Recreation Center. [8] The Secretary of State's office says they do not have the authority to change early voting hours, which are scheduled to end at 7 p.m. on Friday. [7]
  • October 23, 2008. Gwinnett County elections officials must hand-copy the votes from more than 10,000 absentee ballots onto new ballots so they can be read by a machine. The original ballots are flawed because of a printing error. The circle beside the candidate’s name is too thick and misshaped so optical scanning machines cannot read the votes.[9]

Voter suppression and intimidation

This section details problems and threats involving fraud, intimidation and suppression efforts.

Deceptive practices laws

  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Georgia's deceptive practices law as "unsatisfactory," citing, "No laws pertaining to deceptive practices."[1]

Voter caging, purges and other eligibility challenges

Main article: Voter roll purges
  • Nov 8, 2008. A significant percentage of the almost 5,000 ballots "challenged" on citizenship grounds were deemed ineligible and discarded after challenged voters failed to appear before their County Board of Elections with documentation supporting their citizenship.[10] According to Secretary of State Karen Handel, only new voters and those who changed key information on their voter registration were challenged. However, according to DeKalb County Election Director Linda Latimore, many voters in their area were challenged due to clerical error or common names.[11] According to the Atlanta Journal-Consitution, in several Atlanta-area counties up to one-third of the challenged voters failed to appear before the deadline, and had their votes discarded.[12] It is unclear whether challenged voters will be ineligible to vote in next month's Senate runoff election.
  • Oct 30. Secretary of State Karen Handel has reminded voters that anyone can challenge another voter's eligibility at the polls, requiring them to vote on a "challenge ballot" (which will not be included in that day's totals) and appear before the board of elections at a later date. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 30, 2008:
Any voter can challenge another’s qualifications to cast a ballot by notifying a precinct poll manager, Handel said. That voter then would be given a challenge ballot and would have to go before the election board.
If large numbers of challenges are made on Election Day, Handel said, her office will investigate whether they are part of an orchestrated effort to influence the election’s outcome.
But, she said, “I’m not anticipating any kind of huge issue there.”
  • Oct 30. According to a notice sent out by Secretary of State Karen Handel, over 4,500 voters whose registrations were challenged on citizenship grounds must appear before their county election board with documentation to prove their citizenship before election day. If they do not, they may be required to vote using "challenged" paper ballots that will not be included in their district's vote totals.[13]
  • Oct 28. A three-judge panel has ruled[14] that Georgia must register 4,500 voters who had been denied voter registration because they could not prove their citizenship. The judges also ordered the Secretary of state to inform these voters that they are now allowed to vote. It remains uncertain whether this ruling will apply to 50,000 other Georgia voters denied registration for other reasons.
  • Oct 27. A CNN story[15] says that Georgia is checking more voters than any other state, resulting in over 50,000 voters being removed from the rolls, often erroneously. According to the report Georgia's Secretary of state, a Republican, began working on purging voter rolls after being elected in 2006.
  • On October 17, 2008 a federal judge denied a request by voting groups to block Georgia's attempts to verify new voter applicants' identities and citizenship. The groups argue in a lawsuit the action is a "systematic purging" of rolls before the election and say the checks must first be approved by the Department of Justice.[16]
  • Oct 9. CBS News reports on a lawsuit claiming that Georgia is illegally purging voters from the registration rolls. From the story[17],

The complaint, filed by several civil rights groups on behalf of a single plaintiff, claims the state is violating the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act by purging possibly thousands of voters less than 90 days before the election and relying on a flawed database to question the citizenship of registered voters. . . . In March 2007 Georgia officials launched a statewide database that required voter registrations to be matched with the database at the motor vehicles department to check citizenship. Georgia is considered a section 5 state under the Voting Rights Act. Because of a history of discouraging minorities from voting, the state is required to check with the Department of Justice before it started using the database. But it never did.

Voter intimidation and deception

  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Georgia's voter challengers rules as "unsatisfactory," citing, "Any elector may challenge the registration of another voter on the grounds he or she ineligible. It must be in writing and specify the grounds for the challenge. There is no explicit procedure in the state law for an elector challenging another voter at the polls on Election Day whose eligibility to be on the list was not previously challenged."[1]

Polling places and voting

This section details past and potential election threats caused by the state's laws, regulations and practices on election practices, polling places, workers, providing election equipment, etc.

Poll worker training, recruitment and distribution

  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Georgia's poll worker recruitment as "mixed," citing, "Georgia requires that each precinct be staffed with 3 poll workers. The counties are responsible for recruiting poll workers; to our knowledge, the state does very little poll worker recruitment. Under state law, anyone over the age of 16 can serve as a poll worker."[1]

Voter ID requirements

  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Georgia's voter registration voter identification system as "unsatisfactory," citing, "Georgia law mandates that a voter show a government-issued photo identification. If the voter does not have one, he or she must obtain a free Georgia Voter Identifi cation Card. To obtain this card, the voter must bring identification or a voter registration card to the county clerk or a Department of Driver Services branch."[1]

Polling place accessibility and wait times

  • November 4, 2008. In Fulton County about 20 seniors were turned away from the polls and told seniors could not vote until 9:30am.[18]

Voting machine and ballot distribution

  • A Common Cause examination of voting preparedness rated Georgia's voting machine distribution system as "inconclusive," citing, "Each precinct must have at least one voting machine for every 500 voters."[1]

Malfunctioning voting machinery

  • For an extensive log of voting machine problems, see the VotersUnite! report on election incidents.[19]

Ballot design

Provisional ballots

This section lists past and potential election threats caused by the state's laws, regulations and practices on provisional ballots. Particularly, what are the state's criteria for receiving a provisional ballot (including voting in the wrong precinct) and its procedures for verifying eligibility and then including those votes in the totals.


Eligibility verification

Ballots cast in wrong precinct

Vote verification and security

This section details past and potential election threats caused by the state's laws, regulations and practices on vote verification and security.

Voting machine verification and security

Vote tabulation procedures

  • Nov 7, 2008 -- Fulton County officials have completed the tabulation of absentee ballots, and have begun counting provisional ballots from Tuesday's general election. [20] County officials are facing investigation due to violations in their vote-handling procedures, including allowing workers to leave for breaks before all votes were counted. [20] In addition, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution security within the ballot-counting area has been lax: "On Thursday at the tabulation warehouse, a sign warned that the area where workers counted ballots was “restricted,” but there was no security to ensure the dozens of people coming and going were authorized to be in the counting area."[20] Certification for Fulton County's vote totals is scheduled for November 8, 2008, and county officials expect to meet that deadline. A final count is necessary to determine whether a runoff will be necessary in the state's Senatorial election.[20]
  • Nov 6, 2008 -- Secretary of State Karen Handel plans to report Fulton County election officials for not following required vote-counting protocols. [21] Election officials in the Atlanta-area county allowed workers to go home for a rest late Wednesday, before all absentee ballots had been counted. Officials said they feared that tired workers would make mistakes. According to Matt Carrothers, spokesman for Secretary of State Handel, county officials had contacted their office to request permission for the break, which was denied. [20]

Recount procedures

Chain of custody of ballots and e-voting equipment

Election public official issues

Premature media race calling

Vote result challenge procedures

Articles and resources

See also


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Common Cause chart of election issues in Georgia, part of the "Voting in 2008: 10 Swing States," a Common Cause report released September 16, 2008. The areas looked at include: voter registration, voter identification, caging and challenges, deceptive practices, provisional ballots, voting machine allocation, poll worker recruitment and training, voter education and student voting rights.
  2. "Computer error cited in Georgia’s voter registration checks" Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 23, 2008.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Marcus K. Garner,State: Fulton County fumbled absentee ballots,Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 14, 2008
  4. Georgia Voting Information
  5. 5.0 5.1 in Line Up in Coweta Co. to Cast Ballots on Saturday FOX 5 Atlanta WAGA
  6., gathered Nov 2, 2008
  7. 7.0 7.1 Mary Lou Pickel,Democratic politicians: Open polls this weekend Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 31, 2008.
  8. Marcus K. Garner, Hundreds left in the cold at Adamsville Atlanta Journal Constitution, October 31, 2008
  9. "10,000 absentee ballots in Gwinnett are flawed," Atlanta Journal Constitution, October 23, 2008.
  10. Zachary Roth, After Citizenship Challenges, Ballots Thrown Out in Georgia, Talking Points Memo, gathered November 10, 2008.
  11. Mary Lou Pickel, Most Challenge Ballots Substantiated, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 8, 2008.
  12. Mary Lou Pickel, Most Challenge Ballots Substantiated, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 8, 2008.
  13. Mary Lou Pickel, Alan Judd, State to notify 4,770 their votes are ‘challenged’ Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 30, 2008
  14. Thousands of flagged voters can vote, court rules, CNN, October 28, 2008.
  15. "Some voters 'purged' from voter rolls," CNN, October 27,. 2008.
  16. "Judge won't stop Ga. voter citizenship checks," AP, October 17, 2008.
  17. Michael Rey, "Lawsuit: Georgia Illegally Purges Votes," CBS News, Oct. 9, 2008.
  18. "Senior citizens among those who have voting problems," Atlanta Journal Constitution, November 4, 2008.
  19. This past problem and description are from the VotersUnite! Election Problem Log. Click through for included links to origin of report.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 Mary Lou Pickel, Rhonda Cook, [ Fulton nears end of ballot count} Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 7, 2008
  21. Georgia: Atlanta-area county officials defied ballot orders, Associated Press, November 6, 2008

External resources

Poll location

Election Protection hotlines

Voting information

Voting rights

Voting requirements

Election officials, election reform groups, and elected officials

Absentee voting

Disabled voters

Student voting rights

State ballot

  • See how organizations you trust recommend you vote on ballot measures and other statewide contests at TransparentDemocracy.


  • Help in other languages from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. 中文, 日本語, 한국어, Tagalog, Tiếng Việt, Español

Voting machines

External articles