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Guest post by Melody Dareing
Georgians are questioning moves by election poll workers, officials, and others as the big voting day looms Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Reporters and stringers were advised last week that some precincts, including one in Bartow County, would not be posting final voting result tabulations on the door of the precinct building as in the past. They were told all results would be taken straight to the county election offices.
However, Bartow County Election Superintendent Joseph Kirk said that all precincts must publicly post their tabulation results immediately after the count to abide by election law. He said he didn't know of any local precincts that planned on doing things differently because they are aware of the law.
Georgia election law Rule 183-1-12-.12-4 states "One of the three tapes of the tabulated results printed from the ballot scanner shall be affixed to the door of the polling place for the information of the public along with a copy of the provisional ballot recap form for the polling place."
Further into the law, it also states the results should be posted on the county website or in a public place at the county office as well.
"For the purposes of publicly posting the number of ballots cast, including the total number of ballots scanned into the ballot scanner, the total number of provisional ballots issued at the precinct, and the total number of any cast but unscanned ballots in a scanner emergency bin, as soon as possible after the close of polls and the number of absentee ballots received as soon as possible following the deadline to receive such absentee ballots as required by O.C.G.A § 21-2-421."
It identifies a prominent public place as a publicly accessible website, taping the information to the door of the county election office and transmitting the information to the Secretary of State's office.
Another issue is being raised about early voting which ended Friday in Georgia. Those who sought to vote early in Gwinnet were told they had to fill out an absentee ballot form and that gave them pause.
Kirk said all early votes in Georgia were considered absentee ballots. That's because election law stipulates that the election is only one day, the second Tuesday in November. Any vote that doesn't happen on that day must be considered an absentee vote under the law to be counted because the elector is absent on the voting day.
The law is OCGA 21-2-385 and states early votes are called "absentee in-person" voting. The form they fill out has been used for early voting in previous elections, according to the Secretary of State's office.
The other problem voters in Gwinnett experienced was poll workers told them they had to declare themselves either Republican or Democrat, even though this is a general election. Nowhere in the Georgia election law does it state this as part of the procedure. Voters are required to choose a party or a non-partisan ballot during primary elections but can vote for any party they wish in the general.
Additionally, some are concerned about election personnel ceasing counting for the night, as some did in 2020. Under Georgia election law Rule 183-1-12-.12-4 the tabulation "shall not cease such count and tabulation until all ballots are counted and tabulated.
It does allow for counting to cease before the provisional ballots and to stop before counting military absentee ballots as long as those ballots are counted as soon as possible.
Emergencies, like mechanical or technical failures that prevent continued counting, must be reported by the election superintendent in writing to the Secretary of State. It must also state when counting will resume. The rule doesn't allow for counting to stop because of a large number of ballots, for tired poll workers, or for other similar reasons used in 2020.
Such declarations to the Secretary of State's office would be public records.
Would armed citizens encourage compliance with the election laws?
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