The obstacles that Georgia’s voters have faced in this election are simply unacceptable.
It’s also unacceptable that the officials entrusted with administering the elections have spent the day dodging blame, rather than accepting responsibility.
Georgia’s voters deserve better.
Common Cause and the Brennan Center warned the Secretary of State’s Office, back in January, about the need for sufficient emergency paper ballots in case of voting machine failure. We warned about the need for ample machines on election day, to avoid long lines. We suggested expanded pre-election testing of the voting machines.
We repeated those recommendations in February, advising that reduced numbers of voting machines would result in five-hour-long wait times.
A week ago, a coalition of voting rights groups called on the Secretary of State and the Georgia Elections Board to extend the deadline for absentee ballots – many of which were sent to voters too late to be returned by mail. We also asked for a robust public education program to advise voters about changes in their polling locations.
None of these recommendations were followed.
Today, we join with the Georgia Election Protection Coalition in condemning the situation. We join the call to keep all voting locations open until 11:00pm tonight. We join the call for an apology to local poll workers, who should not be blamed for the problems today.
We also call for the problems to be fixed, immediately. There are only two months before the next set of elections in Georgia. There are only five months until the general elections, which will almost certainly see record turnout.
We call on the Secretary of State to form a Task Force — including representatives of voting rights organizations — to prepare continency plans for upcoming elections. We also call on the US Senate to quickly pass the additional elections funding approved by the House in the HEROES Act more than three weeks ago.
Today’s problems were avoidable – and they disenfranchised voters. That must not be allowed to happen again.