Vote counting lingo: What is adjudication of an absentee ballot?

201104-Atlanta-Fulton County elections workers sort absentee ballots at State Farm Arena on Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 4, 2020. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
201104-Atlanta-Fulton County elections workers sort absentee ballots at State Farm Arena on Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 4, 2020. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

When an absentee ballot is flagged for possible errors, the review has a fancy legal-sounding name

As metro Atlanta election officials continue to count votes from Tuesday’s presidential election, you might hear mention of absentee ballots that must be adjudicated or go through adjudication. What exactly is that?

Election officials use that legal-sounding term for a ballot that needs to be checked or reviewed, usually when the ballot has been flagged for a possible error or there is question about the voter’s choice of candidates. Ballots that have been set aside for review go to an adjudication panel, typically a 3-person panel with members appointed by Democrats, Republicans and county election supervisors.

They review each ballot assigned to them to try to determine what the voter meant or the voter’s intent for that race or referendum, according to Gwinnett County Elections Supervisor Kristi Royston. The panels go ballot by ballot to check and try to resolve issues so the votes can be properly counted.

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