Candidates in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District race Republican Karen Handel, left, and Democrat Jon Ossoff prepare to debate Tuesday, June 6, 2017, in Atlanta. The two meet in a June 20 special election.(Branden Camp/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) AJC FILE PHOTO
Photo: Branden Camp
Photo: Branden Camp

Is Fulton behind processing 6th District ballots? County says no.

Among volunteers for the Jon Ossoff campaign, the word is spreading that Fulton County is behind.

Facebook groups are sharing stories of absentee ballot applications that haven’t been processed, said Anjali Enjeti, a volunteer for the 6th District congressional candidate. The Twitter feed of Nate Cohn, a New York Times reporter, says fewer Fulton County absentee ballots have been processed than in DeKalb or Cobb counties.

“I’ve also become convinced that the number of outstanding mail ballots is high in part (because) Fulton Co. is just far behind in processing them,” Cohn tweeted on Saturday.

As for Fulton County?

“I still can’t figure out where they’re getting their information,” said Richard Barron, Fulton’s director of Elections and Registration. “We’re caught up.”

Fulton has caught heat in the past — and in the 6th District race, which pits Democrat Jon Ossoff against Republican Karen Handel — for elections snafus. In April, a misplaced voter card delayed results for hours.

There was the batch of voter registrations tossed in a Dumpster in 2007. The mismanagement of absentee ballots in 2008. The 2012 failure to properly register voters, leading 10,000 people to cast provisional ballots in that year’s presidential race.

This race has been closely watched, and polls show the candidates are in a tight race.

As of Monday, the county had received 13,490 vote-by-mail applications, Barron said. It had rejected 636 of them, or 4.7 percent, because they were not signed, or had other errors on the application forms.

For the rest, the county mailed absentee ballots. Barron said it is required to send them out within 48 hours of receiving the applications.

And already, Barron said, more than half of those ballots have been returned. The county has gotten back 6,608 ballots, or 51.4 percent.

Some have been canceled — 1,613 people, or 12.5 percent, elected to vote early after already writing in for vote-by-mail applications.

Barron said the ease of early voting in Fulton County might account for the number of cancellations. Or it could be that people filled out absentee ballot applications at the urging of political campaigns without ever intending to vote that way.

“Maybe people filled out the application to get people off their doorstep,” he said.

Spokespeople from both the Ossoff and Handel campaigns did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Enjeti said she has met voters who said they had not received their absentee ballots more than a week after mailing the request.

“My theory is that someone doing ground work held them, and it has nothing to do with us,” Barron said. “This is just strange.”

The election is June 20.

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