ATLANTA - A political firestorm has erupted around the revelation that 53,000 Georgia voter registration applications are currently on hold with the state.
Channel 2 Action News has reported on The Associated Press' investigation, which found that most of those registration applications belong to minority voters.
Republican gubernatorial candidate and Secretary of State Brian Kemp has rejected his opponent’s claims of voter suppression, citing state law that’s led to the voters being on the “pending list,” meaning they can resolve the issue at the polls on Election Day.
Democrat Stacey Abrams has called for Kemp to recuse himself from the Secretary of State's office during the race.
Because county boards of elections administer the ballots, Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Nicole Carr walked through the “pending list” voting process with Cobb County’s Director of Elections, Janine Eveler.
“Anyone who is pending will still be able to vote, so we may have to provide them a provisional ballot at that point, but we’re not going to send anyone away if there’s a question about their eligibility,” said Eveler, who notes Cobb, one of the largest counties in the state, only accounts for 2,800 of those voters.
Voters end up on the list for various reasons, Eveler said, including being under 18, having an address discrepancy or violating the “exact match” law.
The latter involves differences in voter records versus driving services records. It can include something as simple as a missing hyphen in a name.
While some of the “pending list” issues will be handled ahead of Election Day, and simpler clerical errors may be resolved at the polls, Eveler described a greater likelihood that voters will end up casting provisional ballots.
The Board of Elections then has three days to investigate voter eligibility.
“We’re going to look through all the records we received,” Eveler said. “We’re going to look through the Driver’s Services queue to see if they said they sent it to us that really did get it. So we’re going to do a lot of research to see if that person is registered or not.”
If the voter is ineligible, they will receive a letter from the BOE explaining what happened.
The following excerpt from the Secretary of State website further explains provisional ballot probes and processing votes:
If you vote a provisional ballot because you did not have acceptable identification, you will have three days from the close of the polls to present acceptable identification to your county registrar office for your vote to count. If you voted a provisional ballot because your name did not appear on the list of registered voters in the precinct, the county registrar has up to three days after the election to determine if you were properly registered to vote in that election. If you were, your vote will count. If you were not eligible to vote in that election, your vote will not be counted, and you will be notified in writing. If you were eligible to vote but voted in the wrong precinct, only the votes for candidates for which you were entitled to vote will be counted, and you will be notified in writing that your ballot was partially counted for your correct precinct.
Election results are certified about a week after Election Day, and will count the valid provisional ballots and absentee ballots from voters like military personnel serving outside of Georgia.
“So we have until end of day Friday (of election week) to do all of our investigations of provisional ballots to get those in. We also have overseas and military ballots,” Eveler explained.
Carr asked Eveler about the impact of provisional ballots on the Governor’s race.
“So nothing on election night is certain,” she continued. “If it’s really neck and neck , then we won’t know anything on Election night. If there’s enough outstanding provisional, military and overseas ballots we’ll have to wait until a little bit later.”
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