Georgia election officials required to add more absentee votes

Georgia election officials required to add more absentee votes

ATLANTA — About 55,000 votes separates Georgia’s two gubernatorial candidates but every county in Georgia has to take another look at absentee ballots.

A federal judge ruled that all Georgia counties must accept absentee by mail ballots with missing or incorrect birthdates.

[READ The memo sent by the Secretary of State's Office]

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Those instructions from Georgia’s secretary of state on Thursday put all county elections leaders on the clock to take another look at the absentee ballots.

Republican Brian Kemp's campaign spokesman, Ryan Mahoney, told Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant that they are emphatic the race for Georgia's governor is over, even after federal judge's split decision in a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party of Georgia.

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“We’re very happy with the ruling, and it’s time to end this and move on,” Mahoney said.

The judge ordered all Georgia counties to accept absentee by mail ballots that did not have the voter's correct date of birth.

In a written statement, Democrat Stacey Abrams’ campaign manager wrote:

“This is a major victory for Georgia voters and the Abrams campaign in the fight to ensure every eligible vote is counted and every voice is heard.”

But the judge did not require counties to accept absentee ballots with incorrect voter addresses or provisional ballots cast by people who tried to vote in a county other than the one in which they are registered.

“Eight days ago, we declared victory, because the math was on our side and it wasn’t on hers, and the court rulings have not changed that,” Mahoney told Diamant.

Abrams still needs about 18,000 votes to force the governor’s race into a runoff.

While it’s unclear how many votes either side could pick up based on the judge’s ruling, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found there were 703 ballots rejected statewide because of birthdate issues.

After the order, Georgia Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden issued a bulletin to all Georgia counties advising them to review each rejected absentee by mail ballot; count absentee ballots rejected for missing or incorrect birthdates; if vote totals change, recertify results with updated totals, and then send confirmation to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Counties have until 5 p.m. Friday to get all that work done and get everything back to the Secretary of State's Office.

Unless a judge makes another ruling, by law the state has until 5 p.m. Tuesday to certify the results.

A spokesperson told Diamant that the Secretary of State's Office is still working with counties to make sure that they’ve all complied with the judge’s order, but did not have an official date and time for certification yet.