DeKalb absentee ballot plan would ‘open election to fraud,’ state says
A woman walks into the DeKalb County Voter Registration & Elections Office to vote in Decatur Saturday, May 30, 2020. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
By Tyler Estep
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is asking DeKalb County officials to reconsidersending absentee ballot requeststo both active and inactive voters ahead of November’s election, saying such a decision “increases the possibility of voter fraud.”
In a Wednesday morning press release, Raffensperger said inactive voter lists often include inaccurate or obsolete mailing addresses.
“Individuals looking to undermine the integrity of Georgia’s elections could use the unclaimed requests to obtain absentee ballots fraudulently in the name of people who have moved elsewhere,” Raffensperger said.
Reached early Wednesday, DeKalb elections board chairman Sam Tillman said he hadn’t seen Raffensperger’s statements. But he wasn’t inclined to reconsider.
“An inactive voter has every right that an active voter has to vote,” Tillman said.
In Georgia, voters are considered inactive after having “no contact” with elections officials for five years, either through voting or by updating their driver’s license information. Voters can also be marked inactive if mail sent by elections officials has been returned as nondeliverable.
As of July 21, there were 526,793 active and 28,993 inactive voters in DeKalb, according to the state’s list of registered voters.
Ahead of June’s primary election, Raffensberger’s office sent absentee ballot applications to Georgia’s 6.9 million active voters, but not to those on the inactive list. The secretary of statehas said he has no intentionof sending unsolicited applications to any voters ahead of November’s general election.
In addition to his claims about fraud, Raffensperger’s press release described DeKalb’s plan to send inactive voters absentee ballot applications as a waste of tax dollars. Pointing to the issues the county experienced during June’s primary election (many of which local officials blamed on the state’s new voting system), he said the resources would be better spent elsewhere.
Said Raffensperger: “Instead of wasting tax dollars, DeKalb should use that money to fulfill its actual duties under Georgia law, which include ensuring that they have sufficient poll workers who are well trained on all equipment and operations, sufficient polling places that can handle the large volume expected in November, and sufficient staff to timely process the absentee ballot requests that do come in.”
The absentee-by-mail voting system has been a topic of national discussion in recent weeks, with President Donald Trump declaring it to be ripe for fraud. Experts say that’s not true.
So does Tillman.
“No one has been able to prove to me that voting absentee by mail creates any fraud problem whatsoever,” he said. “We’ve been doing this in DeKalb County for years and we’ve never had an issue.”
“Unless the secretary of state is issuing an order mandating that we not do this, or telling us not to do this, then as far as I’m concerned nothing is changed,” he added.
I am proud to serve over 380,000 constituents from Doraville to Tucker, Decatur (Unincorporated DeKalb), Lithonia, and Stonecrest. District 7 is one of the largest districts in the State of Georgia. With diversity, unique communities, and a wide variety of economic resources, I embrace the opportunity to leverage our resources to make DeKalb great!