ELECTION UPDATE: Georgia elections include numerous failsafe systems

As the Georgia House Governmental Affairs Committee meets to hold another “virtual hearing” on our state’s elections processes, Common Cause Georgia released the following statement:

Statement of Common Cause Georgia Executive Director Aunna Dennis

Some things shouldn’t need to be said – but this year, they do.

The right to vote – and have our ballots counted – is fundamental to our form of government. It’s how ‘We the People’ actuate government ‘by the people.’ Voting is not a public opinion poll; it’s not something that can be set aside if you don’t like the outcome. Without voting rights, without our ballots being counted, our government will not work.

The 2020 general election was one of the most safe and secure elections in history. In Georgia, our elections include numerous failsafe systems, such as:

  • Ongoing maintenance of our voter rolls using the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).
  • Elections boards at the state and county levels are structured to include representatives of all political parties.
  • Adjudication boards, which decide whether or not to count questioned ballots, are structured to include representatives of both political parties.
  • Requests for absentee ballots are checked against the voter rolls. No one can request an absentee ballot unless they are a registered voter.
  • Signatures on requests for absentee ballots are checked against other signatures on file for that voter.
  • Signatures on the outer envelopes of returned absentee ballots are checked against other signatures on file for that voter.
  • Returned absentee ballots are noted on the voter rolls. No voter can cast more than one ballot.
  • An online tracking system allows voters to verify where their ballots are, in the system. Voters have the ability to determine if their ballot has been received and accepted by elections officials. They can also discover if someone else has cast a ballot in their name.
  • A “cure” process for absentee ballots allows individual voters to fix mistakes on their application or ballot, which would otherwise prevent their ballot from being issued, or counted.

Georgia’s elections workers represent a cross-section of our communities. They come from our communities, they are our neighbors and the people we meet in the grocery store. They include people from both political parties. They work long hours for very low pay – this year, despite a pandemic – to help administer the elections that are central to our form of government. They deserve our gratitude and appreciation.

America’s government ‘by the people’ requires us to trust in elections’ outcomes. Those who use unsubstantiated allegations to cast doubt on our elections are not actually attacking our elections, they are attacking our form of government.

Those who are making unsubstantiated allegations have had innumerable opportunities to provide proof of their allegations. There have been dozens of lawsuits around the country: no proof has been provided.

That lack of proof has not stopped organizations from using outrageous claims to raise money for themselves. The Trump political operation has raised more than $150 million since election day, by inundating supporters with emails urging them to “defend” the election. Most of the money received through these histrionic solicitations has been deposited in a brand-new Leadership PAC that Trump can use as a “slush fund” to pay for a variety of personal and political expenses.     

An incredible amount of public resources has been diverted into promoting these unsubstantiated allegations. Around the country, including here in Georgia, a variety of “public hearings” have been held about the election, during which “witnesses” were allowed to appear without swearing to the truth of their statements, and without being questioned by legislators. These events are designed to make headlines. The legislators involved could have better used their time and energy focusing on work that would improve their constituents’ daily lives.

Around the country, and here in Georgia, there have been efforts to cast doubt on the accuracy of our voter rolls. Despite the fact that Georgia’s voter rolls are now maintained through ERIC – which checks them against other states’ voter rolls, US Postal Service change-of-address data and Social Security deaths data – there is now an effort to challenge hundreds of thousands of voters around the state. Some counties have denied these challenges; some have allowed them. Ballots received from challenged voters will be processed as ‘provisional’ ballots requiring adjudication – which will delay the compilation of results from the January 5th election. Again, these adjudication teams are members of our communities, whose time could be spent in other ways.

It shouldn’t need to be said, but it does. Casting doubt on the November 3rd election has not changed its outcome. Our November 3rd ballots were counted three times, and the outcome was still the same.

It’s time for the people who have been questioning that outcome to stop spreading the seeds of doubt, and to stop fundraising on the doubts they have sowed.