Advocates race to find Georgia voters who cast bad ballots

Georgia Votes, Map Graphic

ATLANTA (AP) — Advocates for both presidential candidates raced Friday to find every person in Georgia who submitted a flawed ballot before time ran out to fix the paperwork in a race that could be decided by only a few thousand votes.

Hours before a deadline, Christin Clatterbuck and Sarah Meng joined about 20 other volunteers who planned to visit addresses in suburban Atlanta’s Gwinnett County in search of voters whose ballots were initially rejected but could be fixed with a signature or an ID.

They walked past rose bushes to knock on the door of a home in Lilburn where they were looking for a 19-year-old voter. Her dad answered and promised to call her at college.

Other problem ballots were cast by people not listed on the voter rolls who will need to explain why. They must correct, or “cure,” their ballots by 5 p.m. Friday for the votes to count.

At a second home, Clatterbuck and Meng did not find the voter, but a friend put her on the phone. She had failed to sign her ballot.

“As you know, it’s so, so, so important. Today by no seconds later than 5 o’clock,” Meng said, giving details on exactly what needed to be done.

Alex Upreti promised to help the friend fix her vote. Meng and Clatterbuck cheered.

The pair did not hit every home on the list. They decided to skip a house where an SUV in the driveway had a “Blue Lives Matter” sticker.

Counties are required to contact voters with problem ballots so they can be fixed. Both political parties also have those lists and were reaching out.

“The voters I had talked to, they had already been talked to by like four people,” state. Rep. Bee Nguyen, an Atlanta Democrat who went door to door Wednesday in DeKalb County.

Some volunteers tried to call voters with ballot problems.

“It’s definitely hit or miss like anything. Think about a telemarketer,” said Aklima Khondoker, the Georgia state director of All Voting is Local. “Typically for me, when a strange phone number comes up, I think it is spam.”

Cobb County Republican Party Chairman Jason Shepherd sent out a call Thursday for volunteers to help the state party, saying Republicans were trying to fix provisional ballots. State GOP Political Director Joe Proenza referred comment to a Trump campaign spokesperson who did not respond to an email.

Democrat Joe Biden was leading President Donald Trump in Georgia by about 1,500 votes at midday, but final results will not be known for days. Under Georgia law, a candidate can request a recount if the margin is less than one half of one percentage point.

The Associated Press has not declared a winner in Georgia because the race remains too close to call. The state’s 16 electoral votes could clinch the race for Biden in his quest for the 270 votes needed to win the presidency.

The secretary of state’s office said several thousand absentee ballots were still being counted. Another 8,900 ballots sent to military and overseas voters could be counted if received by the Friday deadline. Counties also have provisional ballots to review.

Gabriel Sterling, who has overseen the implementation of Georgia’s new electronic voting system, said the state’s 159 counties have been working diligently to finish tabulating results. He emphasized his confidence in the legitimacy of the process. Any evidence-backed complaint will be investigated, he added.

“When you have a narrow margin, little, small things can make a difference. So everything’s going to have to be investigated to protect the integrity of the vote,” Sterling said.

After each county certifies its vote total, the state will perform an audit before issuing its own certification. Counties must certify their results by Nov. 13, and the state must certify them by Nov. 20.

___

Associated Press writers Michael Warren and Jeff Amy in Atlanta; Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia; and Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed.