During and after 2020’s presidential election, much was said about voter fraud. Yet another claim was thrown out of context this week.
Georgia’s secretary-of-state Brad Raffensperger stated in September 2020 that at least 1,000 voters may have participated more than once during that state’s runoff and primary elections. Amid ongoing allegations of widespread vote fraud from President Donald Trump, Raffensperger charged that the voters in question returned absentee ballots, and then also voted in person—a violation of both state and federal law. Raffensperger created a task force for investigation and stated that convictions in violation of Georgia law could result in up to 10 year imprisonment and $100,000 in fines.
Raffensperger has now admitted that his initial claims had been exaggerated.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday that in response to requests for information about the investigation, the secretary of state’s office indicated that only around 300 cases of double-voting were ultimately substantiated, “almost always because of mistakes by confused voters and poll workers.” Raffensperger claimed that there were 1,339 double-voting cases. However, Raffensperger later stated that only one fifth (22%) of those cases had been confirmed. The paper claims that around 100 more cases are still “under investigation.”
Raffensperger’s cases resembled more carelessness by election officials than deliberate malfeasance of voters. Georgian voters may mail in an absentee ballot or leave it at their polling place. You can also vote at your polling station in person. The State of Georgia Poll Worker Manual’s page 55 will tell you that the worker at the polling place has issued the voter an absentee vote. The voter can either return their absentee vote to be discarded or, if the voter does not have the original, the worker will call the voter to confirm that it has not been counted.
Raffensperger asserted that over 1,000 voters could have cast more than one ballot by sending in an absentee vote and voting in person. In such cases, failures on the state or poll workers would result.
Raffensperger’s staff knew this before he made his claim. According to emails published by American Oversight, a government accountability watchdog group, on the same day that Raffensperger made the announcement about double-voting, Ryan Germany, the general counsel to the secretary of state, was advising members of the task force on the subject: “There are systematic checks to stop double voting from happening, and those checks appear to be largely working as intended… [Some]People voted inadvertently twice or were unsure if the absentee ballot was returned.
Trump supported Raffensperger’s election to the office of president in 2018. Trump is furious at Raffensperger for not intervening in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.
Even before Trump’s legal team made the argument that the election was stolen by corrupt algorithms designed by late-dead Latin American powerfulmen, widespread voter fraud was an issue in the political conversation. Although there is little evidence to support it at all, election officials still have to protect against fraud and pursue those who vote in another person’s name. Ironically, Raffensperger was disowned by his leader’s party for refusing to engage in electoral fraud.