Nov 8, 2022 - News

Some Cobb absentee voters have more time to return ballots

Illustration of a hand holding a pen with abstract ballot elements in the background.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Cobb County and two advocacy organizations entered into a consent agreement Monday that will allow more than 200 voters to return absentee ballots by next week after the county failed to mail their documents on time.

Driving the news: The consent order, signed by Cobb Superior Court Judge Kellie Hill, allows the county more time to send ballots to affected voters after elections officials discovered last week that staff did not mail out absentee ballots to 1,036 people.

  • Since making the discovery, the county narrowed down the number of affected voters — those who did not receive replacement ballots as of Monday — down to 247.
  • The ballots will be shipped via UPS overnight delivery and voters will have until Nov. 14 — the same deadline for military and overseas voters — to return them, so long as they are postmarked by 7pm tonight.
  • The county will also communicate with those voters via email to alert them of the status of their ballot.
  • These voters can also opt to cast ballots in person Tuesday at their regular polling precinct or with a federal write-in absentee ballot.

Catch up quick: The ACLU of Georgia and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit Sunday asking the court to extend the deadline for the affected voters.

  • The ballots were marked as being sent on Oct. 13 and Oct. 22, but they never reached voter mailboxes.

What they're saying: Cobb County Elections and Registration Director Janine Eveler said Monday during a press conference that the department "is sick" about the error.

  • "We just want to make it right," she said.
  • Eveler said she’s lost about 38% of her staff since the 2020 elections, so she has a "very young staff in tenure, and they are learning."

Yes, and: Jonathan Topaz, staff attorney with the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, said in a statement that the organization will "fight to ensure that this agreement is fully enforced and that these voters have the opportunity to exercise their fundamental right to vote in the November election."

Of note: Tori Silas, chair of the Cobb Board of Elections and Registration, said they are not looking at reprimanding the employee responsible for not mailing out the ballots at this time.

  • "There will be some work on what happens next after we get through the election,” she said.

Context: Cobb County elections staff, like others around the state, have been burdened with large-scale voter challenges that have occurred since S.B. 202 went into effect. The law, among other things, specified people could challenge the registration status of an unlimited number of voters.

What we're watching: Eveler said she expects a high turnout Tuesday, and her office is fully staffed and will be able to handle the crowds at polling places.


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