In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia has had to drastically alter the way they carry out their elections. These changes have been poorly implemented in the lead-up to its June 9 primary election, an election that has already been postponed twice.
CBS News reports that Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight PAC is launching a campaign on social media to keep track of voters who have faced issues receiving their absentee ballots. As a result of the ongoing pandemic, the state decided to send absentee ballots to all 6.9 currently registered voters. The process has not gone smoothly—the secretary of state’s office had to resend 323,000 absentee ballot request forms due to some of them being sent to the wrong address and others having incorrect instructions on them. Liz Conrad, the voter protection director at Fair Fight, said the primary “has been marred by postponed elections and absentee ballot request forms riddled with errors, causing voter confusion,” in a statement sent to CBS News.
Fair Fight launched its initiative on Thursday and is asking voters who have yet to receive their ballots to reach out to the group to share their stories. Fulton County is the most populous county in the state and multiple residents have already spoken out on the issues they have faced in receiving their ballots.
From CBS News:
Freelance writer Anjali Enjeti, a Fulton County voter and former Abrams campaign volunteer, told CBS News that she and her husband both submitted their absentee ballot request forms on April 16th to an email address listed on the top of her ballot request form, but over a month later, neither she nor her husband had received their ballots.
“I reached out to the Georgia Democratic Party voter protection team on Saturday, May 23rd.” Enjeti said. “They told me to re-send my application to a different email address at Fulton County.” After sending her application to the different address, she was able to get her absentee ballot issued.
Enjeti is not alone. Other Fulton County voters are facing lengthy waits in receiving their ballots, and they’re taking their concerns to social media. Kaleb McMichen, communications director for Georgia state House Speaker David Ralston, tweeted on May 25th, “Been waiting on my ballot to arrive since April 8. 47 days and counting…” McMichen told CBS News he, too, is a Fulton County voter. According to the state elections office, his ballot application was processed on Monday.
The county has a population of over 1 million people, 44 percent of whom are black. Fulton County Registration and Elections Director Richard Barron told reporters on Wednesday that the 25,000 applications in the county’s backlog had been processed. He attributed the delays to servers being overloaded with requests and office closures resulting from one employee dying of COVID-19 and another being put on leave after being diagnosed with the disease.
Gabriel Sterling, the statewide voting implementation manager for the secretary of state’s office, offered a different assessment, calling out the system by which they decided to process the requests. “They made a decision that they were going to process all the mail-in paper applications first and then go back and do the email ones. So, you’re talking about tens of thousands of people who might have requested their ballots back at the beginning of April, who just got processed this weekend,” Sterling told CBS News.
Regardless of whose fault it is, Fair Fight has remained committed to ensuring all Georgia voters “have their voices heard and their votes counted,” Conrad said. Fair Fight currently has a lawsuit against the state of Georgia that alleges that the large scale issues faced by voters during the 2018 election resulted in thousands of voters, especially those of color, being disenfranchised. The organization was formed last year as a way to combat attempts at voter suppression.