State investigates fraudulent ballot in Spalding County

State election officials are investigating a fraudulent ballot in Spalding County, which they believe may have been an attempt to cast doubt on the integrity of Georgia elections.

On Oct. 19, election workers at an early voting location discovered a discrepancy when reconciling the number of voters who checked in with the number of ballots produced and scanned, according to the Georgia secretary of state’s office. A ballot scanner showed 1,521 ballots had been entered into the system, though only 1,520 voters had checked in and only 1,520 ballots had been printed that day.

Following established protocols, the workers moved the ballots to a secure container. They found a ballot that “differed so significantly in appearance from the others that they assumed it to be a fraudulent ballot,” the secretary of state’s office said in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The ballot was cast on what appears to be lined notebook paper.

Credit: Courtesy of Secretary of State's Office

Credit: Courtesy of Secretary of State's Office

Spalding County election officials immediately contacted the secretary of state’s office, which has opened an investigation.

“The ballot may have been created to add a vote for some candidates, or may have been an attempt to cast doubt on the integrity of election systems across the state,” the secretary of state’s office said.

Spalding County officials have not released a comment.

The state agency has alerted every Georgia county about the incident. It has reminded them to ensure voters only insert valid ballots into scanners, and that they do so one piece of paper at a time.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said any attempt to tamper with voting procedures or equipment is a crime and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“This fake ballot was discovered because we have robust security measures and diligent election professionals who follow them,” he said.

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The fraudulent ballot isn’t the only Spalding County issue under investigation. The State Election Board is investigating an effort to have an Atlanta tech company illegally copy election data in Spalding last year. There’s no indication that Spalding followed through with plans to allow the firm to copy data from election equipment.