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Hall voters report ballots with incorrect info; Woodard appointed to absentee ballot fraud task force
0407 ELEX
Voters are being mailed applications to vote absentee in the May 19, 2020, primary. - photo by Shannon Casas

BY NICK WATSON

nwatson@gainesvilletimes.com

AND MEGAN REED

mreed@gainesvilletimes.com

Some Hall County voters have received absentee ballots with an incorrect congressional district listed, although those ballots can still be used to vote in the June election.

Some ballots include a heading for Georgia’s 1st Congressional District. Hall County is in the 9th Congressional District. The ballots list the candidates running for the 9th District U.S. House of Representatives seat, and according to county and state officials, voters can still choose their preferred candidate for the 9th District despite the incorrect heading.

“The Hall County Elections Office is working with the state to reissue the ballots affected if requested by the voter,” county spokeswoman Katie Crumley said in an email. “The error will not impact ballot tabulation in any way."

Voters who would like to request a new ballot can call the Hall County Elections Office at 770-531-6945.

Absentee ballots are created by the state and sent to county elections offices to be proofed, according to Jackson County Elections Director Jennifer Logan, who said Jackson has not experienced the same problem. Rabun County’s ballots also did not include the error, according to elections supervisor Tammy Whitmire. Other elections directors in the 9th District were unavailable late Tuesday afternoon.

It was unclear Tuesday how many ballots had been affected.

“Every vote will count, and it will not impact the race,” Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in a statement.

Absentee ballots include the date May 19, the date for which the primary had previously been scheduled. The primary was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but ballots with the May 19 date will be sent to voters and will be counted. The primary is set for June 9.

Hall County Solicitor General Stephanie Woodard was appointed by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to an absentee ballot fraud task force.

“The people of Georgia have the right to a secure, safe, and reliable vote,” Raffensperger said in a statement announcing the task force. “In times of crisis and change, scams and deceit multiply. The Absentee Ballot Fraud Task Force features some of the state’s premier law enforcement experts, who will assist our office as we investigate any allegations or instances of potential voter fraud. The integrity of the voting process is the bedrock of our democracy, and we will work tirelessly to ensure it is not violated.”

Woodard said she was “honored and excited” to participate in this vital function. The first meeting of the task force is coming soon, though no specific date was given.

While local elections boards handle their own inquiry of any complaints, the task force has been “set up to be a safeguard for investigating issues that local election boards may have,” Woodard said.

Woodard said there have historically not been many complaints filed.

Woodard is joining Logan and these fellow members of the task force:

  • U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine 

  • Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit District Attorney Shannon Wallace

  • Clayton Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tasha Mosley

  • Cordele Judicial Circuit District Attorney Brad Rigby

  • Dougherty Judicial Circuit District Attorney Greg Edwards

  • Cobb County Solicitor General Barry Morgan

  • Mountain Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Rosanna M. Szabo 

  • Glynn County Elections Supervisor Chris Channell

The secretary of state’s office’s chief investigator Frances Watson will lead the task force with the assistance of the office’s elections director, Chris Harvey.

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