A self-professed “nosy mom” led at least three people to cast their ballots twice in Fulton County in the presidential election last month.
In all, five Fulton County residents heeded the aphorism to vote early and vote often. In the rest of Georgia, the secretary of state's office is investigating three other allegations of repeat voting — one each in Paulding and Putnam counties in November, and one instance in Jackson County in June.
Lyn Bomar, a poll worker at the Sandy Springs library, said she was a "very conscientious mother" and wanted to make sure her son and daughter-in-law had voted. When she checked their names in the voter system, it didn't show that their ballots had been cast. So she called them to make sure.
“There were a couple of lulls, so I pulled up a couple of other people that I knew,” Bomar said.
Though her relatives and a friend she checked in the system had voted early, Bomar said the fact that their names didn’t show up as having voted were “red flags” to her. She told them she didn’t think their votes had counted. A call to Fulton County didn’t clarify the situation until later in the day, Bomar said, when someone in the office of Elections and Registration told her the people in question would receive credit for voting.
Bomar said she wasn’t sure if it was the first time or the second.
Richard Barron, the Fulton director of Elections and Registration, said both votes had counted. Repeat voting, he said, is “a violation of the law.”
“I think there’s going to be some serious consequences of it,” he said. “This isn’t going to be taken lightly.”
After the election, the county audits its records to make sure everyone gets credit for voting. Barron said the problem with the list Bomar was looking at stemmed from a box that wasn’t checked by a pollworker who checked the voters in. But that process has no bearing on the actual ballot, and whether it was counted.
Barron speculated that the other voters who cast their ballots twice may have a received a robocall reminding them to vote after they had already done so.
After the audit, Barron passed the names of the five voters on to the secretary of state’s office. Candice Broce, a spokesperson for the office, said in an email that investigators will review the five, and decide whether to open a formal investigation.
If an investigation is completed, the findings will be sent to the state election board. That board will decide whether to dismiss the case, issue a letter of instruction or send the case to the Attorney General’s office.
In the past decade, Broce said, the state has had at least 40 repeat voting complaints. The most came in 2008, when 10 cases were investigated. 2010 is the only other year where there were more than five complaints; that year, there were 6.
Broce said if cases are sent to the Attorney General’s office, violators “will enter into a Consent Agreement to cease and desist from further violations and pay a fine based on the severity” of the violation.
Fulton County won’t conduct its own investigation, Barron said. But he said cases of repeat voting are rare. More than 440,000 people voted in Fulton County in the November election.
Repeat voting situations, he said, have nothing to do with the national conversations that have been ongoing regarding the integrity of the voting process. Instead, it's a personal choice.
“In my opinion, if you went to vote and then you turned around and went and voted again, that was the fault of the voter,” he said. “I think it’s just sheer dishonesty. …They got caught.”
Bomar’s son, daughter-in-law and friend did not return phone calls seeking comment about their decisions to vote again. The other two people who cast repeat ballots could not be reached for comment.
Bomar, who said she has been a poll worker for more than 15 years, said “it’s too weird for words” that of the five who voted twice in Fulton, three are tied to her. She said since she first started working the polls, the technology has become more challenging. She thinks she probably won’t return for another election.
“It’s set up for a lot of mistakes because it’s gotten so very, very complicated,” Bomar said. “Just think how many people could vote twice!”