DeKalb elections board rejects challenges to 50K voter registrations

DeKalb County’s elections board rejected Tuesday a series of challenges that questioned more than 50,000 voters’ eligibility to cast ballots in next month’s U.S. Senate runoffs.

The challenges were part of a statewide effort being led by the Georgia Republican Party and a Texas-based group called True the Vote. In counties across Georgia, the latter has targeted voters whose names showed up on U.S. Postal Service lists showing address changes and enlisted local Republicans to challenge those voters’ status with their respective elections boards.

At least one challenge has been successful; about 4,000 voters in the Columbus area will now have to prove their eligibility if they want to cast a ballot in next month’s high-stakes runoff. But other efforts in counties like Cobb and Gwinnett have been rejected in recent days.

DeKalb’s election board joined its metro Atlanta counterparts in deciding there was no probable cause to move forward. The board rejected three different challenges brought by three different individuals: J. Max Davis (former mayor of the city of Brookhaven), Marci McCarthy (a vice chair in the DeKalb County Republican Party) and Douglas Hartman.

All told, the trio was asking elections officials to investigate the eligibility of about 50,849 voters.

“It does not limit anybody’s right to cast a ballot, but rather it asks them to prove residency in Georgia before they cast a vote,” Davis said, according to a statement read during the public comment period of Tuesday’s meeting.

The elections board, though, acted on the recommendations of their legal counsel.

Assistant county attorney Irene Vander Els advised the board to dismiss the challenges because they were untimely and provided no evidence beyond a list of voters who had requested address changes. Change-of-address lists often include legitimate voters like members of the military and people who are temporarily living elsewhere for school, work or to take care of loved ones.

“Ultimately, the information provided is not first-hand evidence that any of the challenged voters do not reside in DeKalb County,” Vander Els said.

Early voting for the Jan. 5 runoff election is underway in DeKalb County and across Georgia. Click here for a list of advance in-person voting locations and absentee ballot dropboxes in DeKalb.

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