Much of the misinformation being put out in social media and newsletters on the part of our Republican elected officials is becoming alarming, as it is eroding the public confidence in one of our most precious democratic institutions: the elections offices. This should be a time for thanking voters for becoming engaged and election workers for their incredible commitment during unprecedented challenges, not accusing them of malfeasance when an election does not go their way.
The data and commentary recently released by U.S. Rep. Jody Hice’s office needs to be fact-checked as to his data source. He erroneously stated that the rejection rate of absentee ballots in 2020 was alarmingly low compared to two years ago, and that this somehow “defies logic” and is reason to suspect voter fraud or, at least, verifier incompetence. According to the information shown on the Georgia secretary of state’s website (sos.ga.gov), while the number of absentee ballots increased some 350% from the 2018 to the 2020 general election, the same 0.15% rejection rate (missing or non-matching signature on the envelope) was evident for both years. These low rejections are likely due in part to the herculean effort on the part of both political parties to help voters fix their issues with their ballots before the due date, as per Georgia law. The increase in the sheer number of absentee ballots in 2020 is a result of voters having to cast their vote in the midst of a deadly pandemic. No one wants to stand in long lines or crowded rooms where there is a potential risk of contracting COVID-19. If you wish citizens to be actively participating in their democracy, you need to make it easier for them to cast their vote, not harder.
Georgia county poll workers receive training on handwriting analysis from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Signatures are matched with those on file in the state database, and the procedure is conducted in consultation with other officials. Some voters simply neglected to sign the outside of the ballot envelope. To insinuate that there is wrongdoing on the part of these workers is just appalling. These workers are dedicated and hardworking and, in 2020, came to work in the midst of the pandemic so we could safely participate in our democracy.
During the November election, out of the approximately 90,000 absentee votes cast in Congressional District 10, 44% were cast for Hice. Will he be contesting all of these votes? Or is he just accusing Democratic counties of cheating?
The uncovering of missing ballots on a jump drive during an audit is a serious concern, and procedures for making sure this does not happen again should be implemented. But I fail to understand what our federal and state representatives are referring to as “illegal” ballots and “fraud.” This is merely parroting the words of a loser. Rhetoric is not proof, no matter how many times it is repeated or how loud it is shouted.
Officials are perpetuating misinformation and encouraging others to distrust the election results. This is dangerous to our democracy. Their words and actions have consequences. Please ask them to stop, move on to uniting our people and move on to addressing the important issues of our health, safety and economic security. An apology to our secretary of state and to our dedicated election workers is in order as well.
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