Errors on forms for requesting absentee ballots that were sent to 30,000 potential Georgia voters by the campaign of Democrat Stacey Abrams are leading to questions from county election officials and threaten to confuse administrators ahead of the November midterms.
But over the weekend, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office said it would issue a bulletin to county election officials advising them to essentially ignore the error and process the requests for absentee ballots as normal.
And the Democratic Party of Georgia said by the end of the day Friday it had contacted more than half of the 159 counties in the state, and the errors would not keep any potential voters from receiving absentee ballots if they requested them.
“We were concerned when we learned about this clerical error,” said Rebecca DeHart, executive director of the Georgia Democratic Party in an emailed statement. “But were relieved upon speaking with dozens of county officers that this would not impede counties’ ability to process the absentee ballot applications of Georgia voters exercising their rights.”
Incorrect voter identification numbers were included on pre-completed requests for absentee ballots prepared by Deliver Strategies. Over the weekend, the political mail vendor based in Virginia confirmed it was the source of the error.
The mailed requests, sent by the Abrams campaign on Aug. 1, include the name and address of the potential voter receiving them, and the address for the corresponding county election office.
These pre-completed absentee ballot requests are meant to make it easier for people to vote without going to a polling place. A potential voter can simply sign the form they receive and put it in the mail. In return, they should later receive an absentee ballot to complete and submit at their convenience.
While preparing the mailers, Deliver Strategies did not include each individual’s state-issued voter ID number – typically used by election officials – and instead included an ID number used in a nationwide party database for contacting potential Democratic voters.
Including a state-issued voter ID number on an absentee ballot request is not required by law, but Deliver Strategies meant to add it for the convenience of local election officials, according to the Abrams campaign.
A local election official in Thomas County called the Georgia Democratic Party last week to alert them to the error. The party then contacted the Abrams campaign and the Secretary of State’s office.
Later, the Democratic Party started calling local election officials in the state’s 159 counties. By the end of Friday, the Abrams campaign said Democratic officials spoke with 71 election supervisors, and the majority said the error would not hinder their processing of the ballot requests.
According to the Secretary of State’s office, last week an election official in Oconee County called state Elections Director Chris Harvey to report the issue. Harvey informed the official they should ignore the inaccurate voter ID number and process the absentee ballot like usual.
Democrat Stacey Abrams faces Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp in the race for governor.
In an emailed statement about the issue, Kemp did not mention Abrams, but said Democrats had made a “reckless mistake” that cannot be allowed to “compromise the security and fairness of our elections or disenfranchise a single, Georgia voter.”
“Georgia Democrats made a massive error that could impact 30,000 voters in our state,” Kemp said. “I have urged local elections officials to remain vigilant as absentee ballot requests arrive in their respective offices.”