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Board discusses election night problems

The Troup County Elections office processed about 7,000 absentee ballots leading up to Election Day on June 9.

Due to a one-time ruling from the Georgia State Elections Board, local municipalities were able to open those ballots a week early to prepare for the overabundance of more ballots. Troup County Elections Supervisor Andrew Harper said the county processed more 5,875 ballots by Friday, June 5. That following Monday, his staff processed another 1,098 ballots that came in throughout the weekend on Monday.

Just as his staff was prepared to handle incoming vote totals on June 9, Harper said the post office delivered 365 more absentee ballots just before 7 p.m. He said those had to be verified and put into the system.

“That is what took so long to get those processed on that night,” Harper said.

If the ballots are not signed when they come in, Harper said his staff has to contact those voters through a phone call, email or a letter, depending on the information available on the absentee ballot application.

Another issue on election night was voters asking to cancel their absentee ballot so they could vote in person. Harper said when somebody reverses or cancels their absentee ballot, the staff has to go into the system, change or cancel the ballot and allow the person to vote in person at the precinct.

Harper said 483 people reversed or canceled their ballot during the early voting process, and 337 voters changed their minds on Election Day.

“So that’s a lot of people that canceled their ballot on election day and voted in person,” he said.

One additional problem Harper’s staff had on election night was the number of ballots that needed to be created. He said if a voter marks their ballot with an X, a checkmark or fills in the bubble outside the boundary, the machines can’t read it. This causes the staff to have to recreate the ballot and submit it into the machine.

“We had over 300 that we had to recreate on election night,” Harper said.

Harper said his staff looks for November’s general election to be large once again, and he’s not sure if the state will automatically send absentee ballots to everybody who got one in June. He said if a person is elderly or disabled, they get one automatically. His staff knows they have to mail out about 4,000 for the August runoff for Troup County State Court Judge between Wesley Leonard and Kyle Lovejoy.

Harper said those 4,000 ballots don’t include any additional applications because voters don’t need a reason to receive an absentee ballot. They just need to request one and fill out an application. Voters can request an absentee ballot by calling the elections office or requesting one through the Georgia Secretary of State office.