Newton County

Ballot issues in Newton County spur adjustments by elections officials, spokesman says

COVINGTON, Ga. — Early voting started this week in Newton County, and some voters in Covington say their ballots were incorrect.

Some had local races that shouldn’t have been on their ballots while others had no local races at all.

According to a Newton County public information officer, the Board of Elections and Voter Registration was made aware of a ballot error in the City of Covington on Monday.

Residents arriving at the Oxford City Hall polling location arrived for early voting to find that the ballot did not have the City of Covington mayoral race listed, meaning some voters were unable to select their choice for mayor.

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Officials told Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes the issue was corrected immediately and adjustments took effect Wednesday to address the issue.

The state board of elections is looking into how this happened.

“Immediate adjustments were made and voting for the ballot combination in question resumed as normal,” an information officer said.


According to the county, just one person voted in the polling location and experienced the problem with that ballot combination.

“That person is being contacted to submit an emergency paper ballot for the mayoral race only,” officials said. “After a paper ballot was put in place Monday and Tuesday, for that district combo, the Newton County Board of Elections responded rapidly to the ballot error by submitting an updated project to the state.”

However, a local lawmaker told Channel 2 Action News he didn’t think that was the case.

“A candidate was told [by] the board of elections that this affected 1,200 voters,” State Rep. Tim Fleming said.

Since privacy laws protect voters, there’s no legal way to cross-reference information to see if anyone else got a bad ballot.

“We’re a small town and the vote could be decided by just a handful of votes. So if anybody’s vote doesn’t count - we have a problem,” Covington City Councilwoman Susie Keck said.

Keck told Channel 2 Action News when she voted Monday, the only thing on her ballot was the referendum to decide if seniors should pay the school tax.

The ballot was also supposed to have candidates for the mayoral race, along with candidates for three city council seats.

Keck spoke up and said a poll worker gave her a provisional ballot.

“My concern is, I knew who was going to be on the ballot, and I knew who I planned to vote for, but there’s so many people in this community that probably don’t know,” Keck said.

Early voting is set to continue through Nov. 3, including Saturdays on Oct. 21 and Oct. 28.

As it stands, for the district impacted by the ballot error, only 784 active and inactive voters are registered and eligible to vote in the race.

The general election for the City of Covington will be held on Nov. 7.

Residents who think they got an incorrect ballot should contact the Newton County Board of Elections.

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