The Scoop: Following reports that some residents who requested absentee ballots never received them, Cobb County elections officials investigated and discovered more than 1,000 ballots were never mailed to voters.
The Cause: Elections and Registrations Director Janine Eveler attributed the situation to human error, with new staff not following procedures on two days to ensure ballots were mailed.
“I am sorry that this office let these voters down,” Eveler said in a message to the Board of Elections and Registration. “Many of the absentee staff have been averaging 80 or more hours per week, and they are exhausted. Still, that is no excuse for such a critical error.”
The investigation determined 1,046 requested absentee ballots were never mailed.
The Fix: Elections staff overnighted absentee ballots to 83 out-of-state addresses and included pre-paid overnight return envelopes. Officials had previously overnighted ballots to 194 residents from that group who had requested ballots. Records show another 271 residents in that group had canceled their ballot request and voted during Advance Voting.
The remaining 498 residents identified are urged to vote in person on election day.
Cobb Elections officials will be attempting to contact the impacted voters by email or phone to inform them of the situation and to direct them to their election day polling place.
The Last Word: “I am very disappointed that we have placed these voters in a position where they may not have an opportunity to cast their ballots in this general election,” said Board of Elections Chair Tori Silas. “While human error was clearly a factor, I believe reduced time frames for the receipt of requests for and processing of absentee ballot provided under SB202, as well as the turnover in the Elections office, are also significant factors.”
“With only 3 days until election day, we are constrained in what we can do,” Silas continued. “That being the case, we are taking every possible step, notwithstanding those constraints, to ensure these voters have an opportunity to cast their ballots. Following this election, I will join other members of the board of elections to oversee a review of the absentee ballot process and work with Ms. Eveler and her staff to improve the county’s absentee ballot process to reduce the likelihood of this type of error occurring in the future.”