The American Civil Liberties Union, along with other groups, filed a lawsuit in Georgia over an Atlanta-area county’s unusually high rate of absentee ballot rejection, according to local news station 41NBC/WMGT.
A primary cause for ballot rejection is mismatched signatures:
> Election officials use signature matching to verify a person’s identity, but advocates say many election offices lack training and standards. Matching signatures is particularly fraught because a person’s handwriting can change over time and be affected by age or disability.
U.S. Election Assistance Commission data show that 99 percent of mailed ballots nationwide are eventually counted, but one Georgia county has rejected close to 10 percent.
> In Georgia, the ballot rejections in Gwinnett County were running well ahead of the other large counties ringing Atlanta. Gwinnett County had rejected 9.6 percent of all absentee mail ballots as of Oct. 12, while DeKalb County had rejected 1.9 percent and Fulton County had rejected none, according to court filings.
> Candice Broce, spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office, said state officials were aware of the concerns and opened an investigation.
> Georgia law requires voters to be told “promptly” of a problem, but does not specify a time period. In Gwinnett County, this means sending a voter notice in the mail within three days, according to county officials.
After voters are notified of the issue, they can request a new ballot or opt to vote in person, but those who drop off their ballots on or near election day might not have time to remedy any problems that arise.
> A federal judge ruled last week that Georgia election officials cannot reject ballots for a signature mismatch without providing voters an opportunity to verify their identity; they would have almost a week to do so under the ruling. The state plans to appeal.
Georgia’s elections are under heightened scrutiny this year as Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who oversees elections, is also the Republican candidate for governor.
Despite calls that he step away from the process, Kemp has decided to carry on in his current role, leaving some to wonder if Georgians will trust the election results if he wins.