Double-voting and election irregularities alleged in Long County, Ga.

People vote at the Wolf Creek Library in South Fulton on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. STEVE SCHAEFER /SPECIAL TO THE AJC
People vote at the Wolf Creek Library in South Fulton on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. STEVE SCHAEFER /SPECIAL TO THE AJC

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Allegations of double-voting, miscounted ballots and voter disenfranchisement surround a tight election in Long County that might have to be redone.

Seven people were able to vote twice in the June 9 election for Long County probate judge, said Jake Evans, an attorney for the incumbent. Some of them submitted absentee ballots and then voted in person; others voted in person twice, he said.

“It was a complete breakdown,” Evans said Friday. “It’s a crazy story. I don’t even know how it happened. I didn’t even think double-voting was possible.”

Probate Judge Bobby Harrison Smith is asking a judge to order an election after he appeared to lose by nine votes to challenger Teresa Odum. The vote count was 1,375-1,366.

But that vote count is inaccurate because of many election irregularities, including double-voting, said Evans, who is also chairman of the state ethics commission.

Election officials accepted at least nine votes from people who no longer live in the southeast Georgia county, and they turned away people who were incorrectly told they had already voted, according to Smith’s lawsuit.

In addition, election officials mailed ballots to voters who never signed absentee ballot request forms as required to verify their identities, Evans said. Sixteen additional votes were found when conducting a recount.

A statement from the Long County elections board said the number of alleged double-voters isn’t enough to cast the election results in doubt.

“The board and its staff will continue to investigate all allegations of any irregularities as we proceed through the election challenge and will take whatever action is appropriate to fully answer any questions presented, without favor to any party or candidate,” the county elections board said in a statement Friday.

County election officials are required to check voter registration information, track ballots cast, verify signatures and conduct accurate counts. Violations of election rules could result in fines or reprimands from the State Election Board.

“It’s clear that Long County has dropped the ball and failed to maintain proper procedures,” Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said. “Make no mistake about it, our office will aggressively pursue the fullest extent under the law to hold each double-voter accountable. If you violate Georgia election law, we will hold you accountable.”

The case is scheduled to be heard in Long County Superior Court in September. Evans said he’s asking a judge to order a new election on the same day as the general election Nov. 3.

— Staff writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this article.