By Beau Evans
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Tuesday his office is investigating alleged instances of double voting in the state’s June 9 primary elections.
At a news conference, Raffensperger claimed investigators have identified 1,000 alleged instances in which Georgia voters intentionally cast ballots twice: once via absentee and once in person.
He did not provide evidence Tuesday as to how his office might know for certain that 1,000 people intentionally voted twice, other than to state that “we know one person was bragging about it down in Long County.”
Reports emerged last week of alleged voting irregularities including double voting in a local Long County election for judge.
“They knew what they were doing,” Raffensperger said of voters who allegedly voted twice.
Results from an investigation into the alleged double voting should be ready “in the next couple of weeks,” he added. Findings will be sent to local, state and federal authorities for further prosecution.
Raffensperger, a Republican, drew swift criticism Tuesday from state Democratic leaders who argued his announcement has the potential to undermine confidence in the Nov. 3 general election while noting that instances of voter fraud in Georgia are rare.
“It is clear that rather than do his job of promoting the safety and security of our voting process, the Secretary of State is instead pushing the GOP’s voting conspiracy theories and disinformation, as he fights in court to make voting by mail less accessible to voters,” said Scott Hogan, executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia.
This election season has seen vote-by-mail skyrocket in Georgia amid health concerns brought by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The primary elections in June drew historic numbers of absentee ballots. The upcoming general election is also poised for huge mail-in voting turnout.
Voters in Georgia who apply for absentee ballots can still vote in-person on Election Day so long as they formally cancel their absentee ballots or applications at a polling place.
Raffensperger said around 150,000 voters applied for absentee ballots for the June primaries, then showed up to vote in person. Of those, he claimed 1,000 voters intentionally cast an absentee ballot before voting in person without first canceling their absentee ballots on Election Day.
“We’ll be investigating all 1,000 (double-voting allegations) and we’ll get to the bottom of it,” Raffensperger said.
None of the alleged double-voting instances had any impact on the final outcomes of the primary contests, he added.
Knowingly voting twice in the same election is a felony crime in Georgia that carries a one to 10-year prison sentence and a fine up to $100,000 upon conviction, Raffensperger noted.
Georgia’s election system has been under intense scrutiny in recent years following a close gubernatorial race in 2018 and the rollout earlier this year of new voting machines that Raffensperger has touted as secure from vote tampering and cybersecurity breaches.
While some technical issues involving the new machines have cropped up in recent elections, state election officials have attributed those issues to a lack of experience on the part of some local poll workers and county officials.
On Tuesday, Raffensperger said the state’s voting system caught the alleged double voting but that some local election officials missed them. He said training on identifying voter fraud will be boosted ahead of the elections in November.
“The system worked fine,” Raffensperger said. “It’s not the system. It’s really voters.”
Raffensperger’s announcement follows controversial remarks President Donald Trump made last week in which the president appeared to encourage North Carolina voters to vote twice in order to see “if their system is as good as they say it is.” Trump has frequently criticized large-scale vote-by-mail in recent weeks as he campaigns for a second term in office.