Georgia elections director: Voter challenges barred in polling places

Election bulletin seeks to avoid voting confrontations

Georgia’s election director told county election officials Thursday that challenges to voters’ eligibility can’t be filed with poll workers when voters are trying to cast their ballots.

The Official Election Bulletin from State Elections Director Blake Evans clarifies a previous memo earlier this week that resulted in questions about whether voters could be challenged in polling places as early voting begins Monday.

Over 65,000 Georgia voter registrations have been challenged this year by Republican voters who believe registrants are no longer eligible to vote, often because address records indicate they might have moved. Georgia’s voting law passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly last year allows any voter to challenge the qualifications of an unlimited number of voters within their county.

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Most of the challenges have been dismissed by county election boards, but about 3,000 have been upheld, resulting in either canceled registrations or voters being placed in “challenged” status, requiring them to cast a ballot that would be reviewed before it’s counted.

“Any voter challenge must be in writing, must specify distinctly the grounds of the challenge, and must be filed with the board of registrars,” Evans wrote. “Challenges cannot be filed with a poll manager or any poll worker.”

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

The latest Official Election Bulletin provides guidance for how county election officials should resolve situations if someone whose eligibility has been challenged tries to vote. Challenges must be reviewed and decided by local election boards in public hearings.

The initial bulletin issued Tuesday said “a voter’s eligibility may be challenged by another voter at the time of voting and not indicated as challenged” on voter check-in computers.

“We’re glad to see the secretary of state stand down from this latest illegal attempt to disenfranchise voters, and we are continuing to closely monitor the situation to ensure legal action is not needed,” said David Bergstein, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.