Common Cause Georgia Urges Secretary Raffensperger to Ensure Georgians Are Not Denied the Right to Vote on November 3

Polling places ran out of paper ballots during the June primary: ‘This cannot be allowed to happen again”

In Georgia, polling places use the same paper ballots for two purposes: provisional voting; and emergencies when the voting machines are not working or not available. 

During the June 9 primary election, many polling places ran out of “emergency” paper ballots — preventing other voters from being able to cast their own ballots..

Common Cause has repeatedly urged the state to require more paper ballots at each polling site — but the state Board of Elections has not changed its Rules. 

On Monday, Federal District Court Justice Amy Totenberg issued a ruling requiring Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to direct every country election superintendent to “maintain a sufficient stock of emergency paper ballots.” 

Yesterday, in a media story, a spokesman for the Secretary announced procedural changes that will increase the number of in-person voters required to vote provisionally on Election Day.

Statement of Common Cause Georgia Executive Director Aunna Dennis

Georgia made national news for the failures of our elections systems during the June 9th primary. 

To be clear, this year’s elections include unprecedented challenges: the pandemic, US Postal Service problems, and a new voting system that requires multiple machines and therefore has multiple opportunities for machine failure. 

As chief elections official for the state, Secretary Raffensperger is responsible for helping county boards meet the all challenges of 2020. That responsibility includes contingency planning to ensure every Georgia voter is able to cast a ballot in this election.

In June, Georgia voters were denied their right to vote when polling places ran out of ballots. If Secretary Raffensperger has taken any action to prevent that from happening again — for example, by increasing the number of paper ballots in each polling place — we haven’t heard about it.

The Secretary’s latest change in procedures means that even more voters will need to cast paper ballots on November 3rd. 

Common Cause recommends that each polling place have paper ballots equivalent to at least 40% of the voters expected to use the site. This would provide enough paper ballots to cover the increased provisional voting, and also allow voting by emergency ballot if machines are unavailable for two hours during peak voting times.

We hope Secretary Raffensperger will take the opportunity afforded by Judge Totenberg’s ruling to issue a directive that polling places have paper ballots equivalent to at least 40% of the voters expected to use the site.

Running out of ballots prevents people from exercising their right to vote. Too many Georgians were denied their right to vote on June 9th, when their polling places ran out of ballots. This cannot be allowed to happen again.

Secretary Raffensperger knows this is a potential problem. He needs to take action now, to prevent it from happening again on November 3.