Georgia Sees Huge Influx of Mail-in Ballots in Disastrous Primary


The long-standing wrangle over voting rights and election security came to a head in Georgia, where a messy primary offered an unsettling preview of a November contest when battleground states could face potentially record turnout.

Voters in Georgia saw hourslong lines, voting machine malfunctions, provisional ballot shortages and absentee ballots failing to arrive in time for Tuesday’s elections.

Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential campaign called it “completely unacceptable,” while President Donald Trump’s top campaign attorney decried “the chaos in Georgia.”

At Trump’s campaign headquarters, senior counsel Justin Clark blamed Georgia’s vote-by-mail push.

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger pushed unprecedented no-fault absentee access, paying to send an application to every Georgian on the active voter rolls. Staff members were not able to process the influx of mail-in ballots, which dwarfed that of the typical primary.

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“The American people want to know that the results of an election accurately reflect the will of the voters,” Clark said.

“The only way to make sure that the American people will have faith in the results is if people who can, show up and vote in person.”

Rachana Desai Martin, a Biden campaign attorney, called the scenes in Georgia a “threat” to democracy.

“We only have a few months left until voters around the nation head to the polls again, and efforts should begin immediately to ensure that every Georgian — and every American — is able to safely exercise their right to vote,” she said.

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Martin stopped short of assigning blame, but two Georgia Democrats on Biden’s list of potential running mates pointed at Raffensperger, who led the selection of Georgia’s new voting machine system and invited every active voter to request an absentee ballot.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tweeted at Raffensperger about problems in pockets of metro Atlanta.

Stacey Abrams, the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor and an Atlanta resident, said “the blame rests solely and squarely on the shoulders of the secretary of state.”

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“Georgia has seen this before,” Abrams told “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday. “Yesterday was the most egregious example.”

In an interview with The Associated Press, Raffensperger laid blame elsewhere, noting state law charges counties with on-ground operation of elections.

“It’s really specifically in one or two counties, in Fulton and DeKalb counties, that had these issues today,” Raffensperger said. “It has nothing to do with what we’re doing in the rest of Georgia.”

Raffensperger promised investigations of Fulton’s and DeKalb’s handling of the primary. The Republican speaker of Georgia’s state legislature, meanwhile, called for an investigation of the entire primary process, singling out Fulton County as “particularly” troubling.

Fulton County, which includes most of Atlanta, has a history of slow vote tabulation. Its local elections chief, Richard Barron, called Tuesday a “learning experience” while alluding to the state’s role in the primary process.

History suggests that both local and state officials, whether in Georgia or elsewhere, could find themselves in the national crosshairs if their election tallies leave the presidency in flux.

“I know that in these hyperpartisan times, half the people will be happy, and the other half will be sad,” Raffensperger said. “But we want to make sure that 100 percent of people know … the election was done fairly and we got the accurate count.”

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