Around 1,000 Georgians are under investigation for voting twice in the state's June 9 primary, Georgia's secretary of state announced on Tuesday.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reports Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the voters mailed absentee ballots and then also voted at polling places on Election Day. Double voting is a felony in the Peach State, punishable by one to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $100,000.
"A double-voter knows exactly what they're doing, diluting the votes of each and every voter that follows the law," Raffensperger said during a press conference at the state capitol. "Those that make the choice to game the system are breaking the law. And as secretary of state, I will not tolerate it."
A record number of Georgia voters cast absentee ballots before the primary due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the AJC. Apparently some voters thought their ballots wouldn't be received before Election Day, so they also voted in person.
Under state election laws, a voter is allowed to cancel their absentee ballot and then vote at their designated polling place if their ballot has not yet been received by election officials.
"They only did what they thought was right to make sure their vote was counted," Aklima Khondoker, the Georgia director for All Voting Is Local, an organization that's advocating for more absentee ballot drop boxes and recruiting poll workers, told the newspaper. "Voters are not criminal."
Raffensperger said suspected double-voters are responsible because they knew they had returned an absentee ballot but then proceeded to vote at a precinct.
However, the process of checking absentee ballots broke down on Election Day.
"During the primary election, we could not reach anyone for hours on Election Day. We had no choice but to have the voter sign an affidavit and let them vote," Todd Faircloth, a Fulton County poll worker told the AJC.
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One voter told Atlanta's Fox5 that he admitted to voting twice in the June 9 election. "To prove that there is a flaw in the system. It's that simple," said Hamilton Evans.
Evans had already voted via absentee ballot. On Election Day, he was waiting for his wife to vote at their polling place when a volunteer asked him for his ID and gave him a ballot.
Evans told the television station he voted again, and then went to the Long County Sheriff's office to tell why he had voted twice.
"The reason I done that was just to prove a point. It's not set up right. If I did it, how many other people did it," he said.
In a commentary published by The Daily Signal website on Tuesday, Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation's Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and manager of the think tank's Election Law Reform Initiative, said, "It's becoming increasingly clear that we should conduct the November election in as normal a manner as possible. We should have as many of our regular polling places open as we can and we should resist the ongoing push to have an all-mail election or a massive increase in absentee balloting with an elimination of the protective protocols in place for such ballots."
Spakovsky illustrated his point by mentioning personal experiences he and his wife had while grocery shopping and when stopping by their local pharmacy. He said both of these retail outlets had all of the safety protocols in place that all of the health experts have recommended, including line spacing, mask-wearing and sanitation stations.
"If we can go shopping in person, why can't we vote in person?" he asked.
And Spakovsky answered his own question, writing: "The answer, of course, is that we can, despite the push by some to scare voters away from the polls. We know we can because multiple states and countries have held elections with in-person voting in this and prior pandemics—and have done so successfully, using all the health safety protocols recommended by experts."
He warned this year's election could be an ordeal of unlimited proportions unless Americans do what we have always done – walk into their polling place and vote in person where election protocols are in place to prevent fraud.
"We have all the makings for a potential nightmare in November. Here's hoping that doesn't come to pass. The best way to do that is to have as normal an election as possible without making all of these major, last-minute changes in the voting and election process," Spakovsky concluded.
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