Common Cause Georgia Responds to Secretary Raffensperger’s Irresponsible Announcement

Earlier today, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger held a press conference to announce an investigation into allegations that some people had voted twice in the June primary election. 

Georgia’s elections systems include multiple safeguards to prevent voters from voting more than once in any election. When voters who have requested absentee ballots show up at the polls to vote in-person, poll workers are supposed to call the county elections office to determine if the voter’s mail ballot has been counted, before the voter casts a ballot at the polls. June’s elections were marred by delays at the polls, lost ballot requests, delayed delivery of ballots, and delayed updating of the online ballot tracking system. 

Common Cause Georgia has called on Secretary Raffensperger to form an elections task force — including representatives of voting rights organizations — to prepare plans to fix the problems that occurred in June.

Statement by Aunna Dennis, Executive Director of Common Cause Georgia

Voters deserve to be able to have confidence in our elections systems.

Even in the middle of a pandemic – perhaps especially in the middle of a pandemic – voters should be able to rely on the systems that select our elected officials.

Voting is, after all, what makes our democracy a “republic.”

Speculating about “potential” double-voting is irresponsible. Generating headlines that might cause voters to question our elections systems does a grave disservice – not just to voters, but to our entire system of government.

Back in April, Secretary Raffensperger announced an “Absentee Ballot Task Force” with broad authority to investigate voters who choose to vote by mail. At the time, Secretary Raffensperger said the Task Force would focus on situations that would disproportionately affect voters from racial and ethnic minorities, younger voters, low-income voters and those who don’t have a traditional “residential” address.

Now, apparently, Secretary Raffensperger is focused on finding people like the man who reportedly told the local Fox News affiliate that he had voted twice to “test the system.”

We wholeheartedly agree that people who intentionally vote twice should be subject to the usual criminal penalties for election law violations.

But we are concerned that voters who were simply trying to vote may get caught up in the dragnet. There was a lot of confusion about the presidential primary, which was rescheduled after some voters had already cast mail ballots – but when those voters wanted to vote in the state primary, they received ballots that also included the race. Did that count as “voting twice”?  There was a lot of confusion about whether mailed ballots had been received by elections officials, because elections officials did not update the website for tracking mailed ballots. Did requesting a mail ballot but voting at the polls – when the tracking system said the mailed ballot had not been received – count as “voting twice”?

Voters should not be penalized for the failures of elections administrators.

Voters also should not be subjected to inflammatory allegations by the state’s top elections officials. 

Secretary Raffensperger has been looking for reasons to cast doubt on Georgia’s mail-in ballot system for months. He would have served us all better if he had invested that time and energy into preventing the problems that occurred in June.