Politics

State Dems: 4,700 Absentee Ballot Requests Missing In DeKalb County

In a memo sent to the county, the Democratic Party said "delivery reports" prove these ballot request forms arrived at the county's offices, but that the voters have not received ballots.
In a memo sent to the county, the Democratic Party said "delivery reports" prove these ballot request forms arrived at the county's offices, but that the voters have not received ballots.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press
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The Georgia Democratic Party, and the campaign of Democrat Stacey Abrams say 4,700 pre-completed absentee ballot requests went missing this fall after they arrived at the DeKalb County Board of Elections, potentially leaving voters confused, and unsure how to cast a ballot in the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

But DeKalb County says there’s no evidence the ballot requests went missing. The Democratic party, voting rights advocates, and the Abrams campaign are encouraging anyone who thinks they might be affected to vote early in person, or call voter protection hotlines to help secure an absentee ballot.

In a memo sent to the county this week, the Democratic Party said “delivery reports” prove these ballot request forms arrived at the county’s offices, but that the voters have not received ballots.

“The only reasonable conclusion to draw based on these facts is that these 4,700 ballot request forms have gone missing,” the memo reads.

The pre-completed absentee ballot requests sent out by the Abrams campaign are meant to make it easier for people to vote without going to a polling place. The Democratic Party says the requests include bar codes that allows them to track their movement to be finalized through the U.S. Postal Service.

WABE has reviewed the “delivery reports” but could not independently confirm the ballots were delivered to DeKalb County.

DeKalb County “maintains that it has been unable to confirm that there are any missing or lost absentee ballot request forms,” said Sam Tillman in a prepared statement. Tillman is chairman of the county election’s board.

“County officials have physically searched the elections offices and the county’s mail processing center and have found no misplaced absentee ballot request forms,” Tillman said.

Voting rights advocates said they are confused and waiting for more information

Helen Butler doubted DeKalb County would have lost the ballots and said based on her relationship with Tillman, he would “not stand for them” losing the ballots.

Butler leads the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, a civil rights group.

“I just don’t see it,” Butler said. “I don’t see them not sending out 4,700 absentee ballots unless they have a great backlog and don’t have enough people to process it. That would be the only reason that they possibly have not gotten back.”

Rebecca DeHart, executive director of the state Democratic Party, said it has no theories about what led to the missing absentee ballot applications.

“Because time has been so tight, we’re really focused on remedying the situation and making sure every voter reaches a resolution,” she said.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office said it was notified of the issue by the Democratic Party, but has not opened an investigation.