Investigation finds some absentee ballots are being sent to wrong addresses, worrying voters

ATLANTA — With the November election less than one month away, Georgia voters have started to receive their absentee ballots.

But some are finding out that their ballot went to the wrong place.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray found it was a problem affecting Georgia voters living at a temporary address.

University of South Carolina student Isabelle Caraballo requested her absentee ballot be delivered to her college address. Instead, the ballot arrived at her family’s home in DeKalb County.

[READ MORE: How Do I Vote by Absentee Ballot in Georgia? ]

“My absentee ballot got sent to Georgia and I live in another state, and now I’m scared that I can’t vote on time,” she said. “It’s been a struggle. And I know a lot of college students are having the same problem.”

Channel 2 received multiple reports of absentee voters whose ballots were incorrectly sent to permanent addresses, instead of the requested temporary addresses.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia is processing a record number of absentee ballot requests. The majority will vote from home because of COVID-19.

“Ninety-five times out of 100, it’s going to the home address,” said Georgia Secretary of State Voting System Implementation Manager Gabriel Sterling.


But for traditional absentee voters — college students, deployed military and many others — a ballot sent to the wrong address could be the difference between casting a vote or not.

“Every person’s vote matters. I think it’s really important for our boards of elections to remember, every person has a voice in this election,” said League of Women Voters of Georgia president Susannah Scott.

“DeKalb County is aware of multiple counties experiencing similar issues with temporary address requests defaulting to permanent addresses in the state system,” DeKalb County told Channel 2 in a statement.

But Sterling pointed out that ballot requests are processed by counties, not the state.

“There’s no state programming issue,” he said. “A human being is looking at some paper and going through as fast, as best as they can.”

Sterling recommended voters use the state’s online absentee ballot portal to reduce the chance of human error.

“There’s a lot more potential for errors on paper ballots or paper requests than there is on the online request portal,” he explained.

For voters who experience this issue, Sterling advised calling the county’s election office to cancel the original ballot and issue a new ballot to the correct address.

He also encouraged tracking the status of absentee ballots using the state’s tracking application to catch potential problems early.

Caraballo said if she can’t get her ballot delivered to the correct address soon, she will drive to Atlanta to vote.

“I have exams, I work. I’m not just at home sitting around,” she said. “I feel like it’s become so difficult to vote for so many different reasons.”