“I am sorry that this office let these voters down,” Elections and Registrations Director Janine Eveler said. “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.”
After learning about the error, election staff overnight-mailed 277 absentee ballots to Cobb County residents. Another 271 residents canceled their ballot requests and voted during early voting.
County election leaders are encouraging the remaining 500 residents to show up in person on Election Day to cast their ballots.
Board of Elections Chair Tori Silas stated, “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.”
County election leaders argued that Senate Bill 202, which reduced absentee ballot time frames, was a factor in the error.
Previously, voters could request an absentee ballot 180 days before the election, and the county was permitted to mail the ballot 49 days before Election Day. Under Senate Bill 202, ballots can be requested 78 days before the election, and the county can mail the ballot 29 days before Election Day.
“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,” stated Silas.
Silas noted that the Cobb County Board of Elections is “taking every possible step” to ensure voters who did not receive their ballot get to vote. She stated that the board would review their absentee ballot process with Elections and Registrations Director Janine Eveler.
The ACLU’s lawsuit seeks to mail ballots overnight to voters who did not receive their requested absentee ballots. It also seeks to push the deadline from Election Day to November 14, the same deadline for absentee voters in the military.
“We are suing to make sure all Cobb County voters are able to have their voices heard, and we look forward to the day when the state partners with counties to make voting easier, not harder, for all Georgians,” said Rahul Garabadu, the ACLU of Georgia’s senior voting rights attorney.