Federal Judge Orders Georgia to Reveal Tally of Provisional Ballots
(Bloomberg) -- A federal judge in Atlanta ordered the state’s election office -- overseen by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp until his resignation Thursday -- to disclose how many provisional ballots were cast during the midterm election and how the total compares with the previous two elections.
The order came after the non-partisan civil rights group Common Cause filed a lawsuit claiming there may have been an increase in the use of provisional ballots because Kemp exposed the voter registration database to potential tampering by highlighting a major security flaw just before the election when he accused state Democrats of a hacking scheme.
- U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg, who’s overseeing a suit by the nonpartisan civil rights group Common Cause, said the state must be prepared to provide the data at a hearing that was scheduled for 2 p.m. in Atlanta.
- Provisional ballots are issued to ensure voters aren’t excluded from the process because of an administrative error. The rights group argues a court order is needed because voters whose names may have been purged won’t get their provisional ballots counted under current state law.
- The civil rights group on Thursday filed a sworn affidavit by a Georgia woman who said she served as a poll watcher during Tuesday’s election at sites in Valdosta, Georgia. The woman said she witnessed 30 to 40 people waiting in line to collect a provisional ballot when the polling site closed, and that many of the people could be overheard talking about problems they’d had with their registrations.
- Because there is “no way to investigate in a timely manner how many voters have been affected,” according to the lawsuit, the group is seeking a court order requiring all provisional ballots be counted if there are more this year than in previous elections. The group said the order must apply to all provisional ballots unless the state can prove that the voter isn’t eligible or didn’t register in time.
- Kemp, a Republican, resigned on Thursday after declaring himself the winner of the state’s gubernatorial race, though his challenger, Democrat Stacey Abrams, hasn’t conceded. It was one of the most closely watched contests in the nation.
- "Provisional ballots are the only practical proxy for identifying affected voters and ensuring they do not lose their votes as a result of defendant’s reckless conduct," Common Cause said in the suit.
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