ATLANTA — Georgia’s deputy secretary of state says election security is the office’s top focus for municipal elections happening across Georgia on Tuesday.
The election will be the first major test of election security after changes in Georgia law earlier this year.
Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said investigators will be ready to run down complaints or allegations of wrongdoing tied to those races.
“All complaints of fraud will be reported to our office, and we’ll investigate those thoroughly. Voters are going to see a number of things that are different. One, the absentee ballot is secure, so we are using security paper for all of the absentee ballots.”
“Without giving away secrets, government experts can tell whether the security paper is being used or something else?” Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne asked Fuchs.
“Yes. Only the counties have access to that paper, and there is a secure chain of access.”
Fuchs said the municipal elections are the first major test of Georgia’s controversial new voter ID provisions and more.
“Since SB 202 passed, this is the first major election and first major test as to whether or not the General Assembly passed appropriate measures,” Fuchs said.
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Fuchs told Winne that the secretary of state’s office’s chief investigator, Frances Watson, will have investigators stationed around the state but specifically in three counties in metro Atlanta: Fulton, DeKalb and Cobb.
She said it’s not necessarily because of how elections officials there do their jobs, but because of the volume of security issues in the past concerning those counties, sometimes involving the activities of third parties.
“I think that we’re well prepared,” said Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts. “In spite of all the criticisms in the past, and there are reasons for the criticisms from the secretary of state, our votes are counted three times, not one, not two, but three,” Pitts said.
Fuchs said additional investigators will also float in metro Atlanta.
Chief Investigator Watson said, however, that most complaints in recent weeks have been about municipal elections in smaller jurisdictions.
“What kinds of things will you be specifically on the lookout for tomorrow?” Winne asked Fuchs.
“We’re constantly looking out for electioneering on the ground. So you can’t campaign in the lines,” Fuchs said.
She said she expects the municipal election turnout will be much lower than last year’s general election, but results so far indicate voters are returning to pre-COVID-19 patterns, with the percentage of in-person voting much higher than in 2020.
“You’re seeing voter behavior go back to normal,” Fuchs said.
A statement attributed to Twyla Hart, interim director of DeKalb voter registration and elections, said in part, “We will continue to collaborate with the Georgia Secretary of State and our stakeholders and residents of DeKalb to ensure all eligible voters are able to cast their ballots in a safe and secure manner.”
It cited a commitment to the integrity of every election.
A Cobb County spokesman texted in part, “We are used to dealing with Secretary of State’s investigators and will be happy to work with them.” The text indicated they’re “confident all their poll workers will follow the law.”
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