ACLU letter prompts Cobb elections email change

This was outside Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church in Marietta on May 24, 2016.

This was outside Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church in Marietta on May 24, 2016.

Robert Thompson recently tried to apply for an absentee ballot in Cobb County, so he sent his request to the email address the county website listed.

But he was immediately denied.

After the ACLU got involved on his behalf, Cobb County elections has disabled that spam filter to make sure no applications are missed.

Janine Eveler, Cobb elections head, said Thompson’s email to was stopped by the spam-blocker for some reason.

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She said the message was deleted after 30 days, so they don’t know why it was flagged. He later sent his application from another email account, which worked.

The AJC asked Eveler how many potential voters were denied by the spam-blocker, but she said that number wasn't available because they don't keep a log of blocked emails.

She said elections staff will now check the emails.

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“We don’t know what it was about that email that caused it to be blocked, it could have been an embedded file, trigger words, or something else,” Eveler told The AJC. “We are having to be very careful with the emails we receive on that address now, but at least we won’t miss any applications.”

The ACLU sent a letter to Eveler and Phil Daniell, county board of elections chairman, on May 9.

"We do not know how many registered voters your system has prevented from electronically applying for an absentee ballot, but even one instance is one too many," the letter in part reads.

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Sean J. Young, legal director for ACLU of Georgia, wrote the letter.

He said protecting access to absentee ballots is especially important for low-income voters because you don't have to have a government ID to vote absentee.

“We want to use his experience to ensure that this does not happen to folks of more modest means who don’t have a government-issued photo ID,” he said.

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J. Alex Halderman held a presentation on the Cybersecurity of US Elections