1,000 out of 150,000 absentee voters voted twice in the August 11th Georgia Primary. That is what the GA Secretary of State announced yesterday. He used his office to proclaim that voting fraud is evident in absentee voting.  He also stated that those instances were being turned over to law enforcement officials.

How could this terrible problem be avoided and who could have imagined this type of problem?

Hmm… Let me dust off my information systems hat and put it on …

Supposed you had a database of registered voters, such as the one that Georgia has, that keeps the following information: 1) request for absentee ballot, 2) date absentee ballot sent to voter, 3) date returned absentee ballot verified by county elections department staff, and 4) the date and a scanned image of my signature indicating that I want to cancel my absentee ballot. The date the ballot was counted is the official date of the election and is the similar to the date if you had voted in person.

the Democratic Donkey with an Elephant head and the Republican Elephant in a Donkey Head

So… What happens if a voter attempts to vote both absentee and in person?

The process should work like this:

When a voter attempts to vote in person, a poll worker takes your approved ID, looks up your voter registration in the official SOS registered voter database. IF THE DATA DESCRIBED ABOVE HAS BEEN ENTERED BY THE COUNTY ELECTION DEPARTMENT STAFF WHEN AN ABSENTEE BALLOT WAS PROCESSED, then the POLL WORKER can easily see from the voter’s record that an absentee ballot has been processed for this voter. WHAT IF THE ABSENTEE BALLOT ARRIVES AFTER THE IN-PERSON VOTING DATE. The same process can be used at the county election office. If the database shows that a voter did in fact vote in person and has submitted an absentee ballot, then the attempt to vote fraudulently is turned over to law enforcement, otherwise it is counted.

What if a voter who has mailed in his or her ballot and wants to know if that ballot was received and verified?  GA SOS has set up a cell phone app as well as a web site that lets a registered voter see their voting record and status.  Here is my information from that site.  It shows that my absentee ballot was received and “Accepted” on August 27th, more that 2 weeks before the in-person voting date.

IF this information were on my record and IF I had attempted to vote in person, the poll worker should have been able to tell me that I had already voted and that voting twice is a felony and refuse to let me vote.

Suppose my absentee ballot had arrived at the election office after the 11th.  Again, the database SHOULD have shown that I had already cast a vote in person and this absentee ballot should not be counted.

What about the situation where a voter HAS submitted an absentee ballot, that has NOT been processed by the county elections office and yet wants to vote in person?

This is why I propose an additional piece of information and protocol to be included in any  voter’s record: a date and a scanned image of my signature indicating that I do not want my absentee ballot to count in this election.  Suppose I believe that the delivery of my absentee ballot was somehow interfered with or delayed and I decided that I would brave the pandemic and cast an in-person ballot. I should have the ability to cancel my absentee ballot and have my in-person ballot count in its place.  I should be able to tell the election official that I want to cancel my absentee ballot and put my signature on a form declaring my intent, and have that form scanned into my official record.  This would relieve me of any charge of vote fraud.

Gee, it looks like that except for the option to cancel my absentee ballot, all the other information is now available in the voter registration database.  So why were about 1 in 150 voters able to cast duplicate votes? Seems to me that this is as much a reflection of the GA SOS’s negligence in training and directions to election staff as it is attempts at fraudulent voting.

The actual on-the-ground action by the GS SOS and Republicant controlled government, seems to indicate that allowing registered votes to have their choice of voting count is not what they want, in fact quite the contrary seem indicated.

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Image Credit: the Democratic donkey in an elephant head and Republican elephant in a donkey head is from a caricature created by DonkeyHotey (Flickr/Creative Commons) – the disguise is a bit of  Photoshop work by LikeTheDew.com.

J.J. Hayden

J.J. Hayden

J.J. Hayden is a retired Professor of Instructional Technology and is a card-carrying “computer geek” having begun working with what then passed as “computers” in 1961. He spent his first 35 years attempting to help his fellow Mississippians before leaving to settle in Covington, Georgia. He is an Episcopalian from birth and a member of Church of the Good Shepherd.  His recent activities include establishing the East Metro for Social Justice wiki as a collection point for local resources as well as an online calendar which is a collecting point of listings of progressive activities & events. His periodic rants can be found at his Facebook page.  He is also Drum Sergeant emeritus for the North Georgia Pipes & Drums.