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Democrats file complaint with Secretary of State’s Office over absentee ballots in DeKalb

Avondale Estates campaign coverage Decatur Kirkwood and East Lake Tucker

Democrats file complaint with Secretary of State’s Office over absentee ballots in DeKalb

File photo by Jonathan Phillips

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File photo by Jonathan Phillips

The state Democratic Party has filed a complaint with the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office after alleging that 4,700 voters in DeKalb County requested absentee ballots but didn’t receive them.

The Secretary of State’s Office confirmed the complaint was received and was under review.

Sara Ghazal, Voter Protection Director with Democratic Party of Georgia, made the complaint.

The county says it only received 48 of these requests.

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“DeKalb County Board of Voter Registration and Elections is in receipt of a list, provided by the Democratic Party of Georgia, of approximately 4,700 registered voters that the Party claims requested absentee ballot forms via a mailer sent out by the Party,” DeKalb County Board of Voter Registration and Elections Chairman Sam Tillman said on Oct. 25. “After reviewing the list of names, there is evidence that the county received 48 of those voter absentee ballot request forms. All 48 of those forms have been processed. At this time, there is no evidence that there are any missing or lost absentee ballot request forms. The Elections Department receives request forms daily and processes them within three days of receipt. At this time there are approximately 250 forms pending processing.”

After Decaturish posted the story on Facebook, several readers chimed in to say that they had not received ballots they had requested.

“My husband didn’t receive his absentee ballot requested two plus weeks ago,” one reader said. “When checking on the status, the link is grayed out. He’s been told he has to go to the DeKalb registrar to decline the paper ballot in person to vote early. I’m sure this will be super easy for folks requesting a ballot because they can’t get out of the house.”

Another reader said they, “Requested an absentee ballot on behalf of my kid who’s in college out of state. Requested weeks ago. Called today and Dekalb County has no record of the request.”

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On Common Ground News published a report about the missing absentee ballots, citing figures provided by Rebecca DeHart, executive director for the state Democratic Party. She confirmed the details of the story with Decaturish.

She said the county tasked six employees with finding voters who didn’t get an absentee ballot.

Party officials say they have records confirming the requests, made via mailers sent out by the party, were delivered.

“We have USPS scans that show 4,700 ballot applications were delivered, but the county board has only been able to find 48 of them,” party spokesperson Seth Bringman said.

Bringman declined to show Decaturish the USPS scans and other evidence the party has, citing a desire to protect voter privacy.

“I have a spreadsheet of names, state voter IDs, scan event codes, etc. I am looking at it on my laptop right now. It was downloaded from the USPS website under our mail firm’s profile,” Bringman said. “It shows the ballot applications were delivered. I cannot provide you this list, either electronically or in person, because it has names and voter IDs and this is personal information. Only the Secretary of State’s office allows this type of data breach.”

Decaturish also asked for a copy of the mailer the party sent out.

“This mail piece was sent over a month ago to voters in 159 counties,” Bringman said. “One hundred fifty eight county boards processed the applications that were delivered to them. If I can identify in our office a copy of this mail piece that was sent a month ago, I will send it to you. But what’s more important is that we continue to get the word out about how and where DeKalb County voters who requested, but have not received, a ballot can vote.”

The party is encouraging people to call its voter protection hotline at call our voter protection hotline at 1-888-730-5816 if they requested an absentee ballot and did not receive one.

Decaturish has filed a request with DeKalb County for records that could shed more light on this situation.

In the meantime, if you have any doubts about whether you will get a ballot, you can put those to doubts rest by early voting.

Early voting began Oct. 15. Here’s a list of locations and times where you can cast your ballot ahead of the Nov. 6 elections.

Voter Registration & Elections Office, 4380 Memorial Drive, Suite 300 Decatur, Ga. 30032: 

  • Monday – Friday, Oct. 15 – Nov. 2, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 20 and Oct. 27, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 28, noon – 4 p.m.

South DeKalb – The Gallery at South DeKalb Mall, 2801 Candler Road, Decatur, Ga. 30034: 

  • Monday – Friday, Oct. 15 – Nov. 2, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 20 and Oct. 27 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 28, noon – 4 p.m

North DeKalb – Dunwoody Library, 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody, Ga. 30338

  • Monday – Friday, Oct. 15 – Nov. 2, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 20 and Oct. 27, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 28, noon – 4 p.m

Tucker – Reid H. Cofer Library 5234 LaVista Road, Tucker, Ga. 30084

  • Saturday, Oct. 27, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 28, noon – 4 p.m
  • Monday – Friday, Oct. 29 – Nov. 2, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Stonecrest – Stonecrest Library 3123 Klondike Road Lithonia, GA 30038

  • Saturday, Oct. 27, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 28, noon – 4 p.m
  • Monday – Friday, Oct. 29 – Nov. 2, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

The following locations will each be open the week of Oct. 29 only. Each will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily until Nov. 2:

  • Atlanta – Coan Recreation Center 1530 Woodbine Ave., SE, Atlanta, Ga. 30317  UPDATE: The county announced that due to a scheduling conflict, this location has been changed to Bessie Branham Recreation Center2051 Delano Drive, NE Atlanta, GA 30317
  • Brookhaven – Briarwood Recreation Center 2235 Briarwood Way, NE, Brookhaven, Ga. 30319
  • Chamblee – North DeKalb Senior Center 3393 Malone Drive, Chamblee, Ga. 30341
  • Decatur – First Christian Church of Decatur 601 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur, Ga. 30030
  • East DeKalb – Berean Christian Church Community Center 2440 Young Road, Stone Mountain, Ga. 30088

Additionally, absentee ballots (applications can be found here) can be sent in until Nov. 2.

People who wish to vote will need to bring one of the following forms of identification, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office:

– Any valid state or federal government issued photo ID, including a free ID Card issued by your county registrar’s office or the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS)

– A Georgia Driver’s License, even if expired

– Valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. Government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of this state

– Valid U.S. passport ID

– Valid U.S. military photo ID

– Valid tribal photo ID

How can you check to see if you’re registered?

You can look up your status by visiting the Georgia Secretary of State’s “My Voter Page.” To visit the My Voter Page, click here. You can check your status by providing basic information like your last name, birthday and the county you live in. You can also see a sample ballot and your polling place.

Please vote in the Nov. 6 elections.

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