I am in Savannah until Covid is over. Permanent residence Atlanta. Set up absentee ballots earlier in the year to come to Atlanta. Reaffirmed for general election in July–August period.
Georgia outsourced under our Trump-clone governor the mailing of ballots for this election. So, while each Georgia county handles the “intaking” of such requests, all those requests are then forwarded to a firm in Arizona for processing and mailing. The Georgia counties have no computer interface with the AZ firm to address problems. This can only be done by the Sec. of State’s office. And the counties have no interface there, either. If you have problems, the only way you can contact the Sec. of State’s office is to submit an online complaint. There is no category for not receiving your ballot.
So, our online ballot tracker showed that my absentee ballot, which I had requested be sent to my Savannah address was “sent” on September 24. That date doesn’t mean it was actually deposited in the US Mail, only that it has been processed and moved to the next step, mailing. My ballot had not come by the first week in October. I spent hours on the phone only to learn that the ballot had been sent to my registration address, not the address to which I clearly asked that it be sent. I was told by the Fulton County elections staff that this AZ firm had been “defaulting” to the registration address, not the requested delivery address.
So, I requested a replacement ballot. I spent nearly 40 min on the phone with the county elections rep as she kept trying to replace the ballot on the computer and the computer kept kicking the request back out. Finally, she got it to go through. Date “sent” according to ballot tracker was Oct. 5.
By the beginning of the week starting Oct. 19, when no ballot was received in Savannah, I started getting worried. I was on the phone or in contact by email just about, if not, every day trying to find out what happened to my ballot. Calls made, complaints filed, press contacted – no help. No one knew the date the ballot was actually put in the mail.
So, last Friday, Oct. 23, the county elections rep I had been working with (using my county commissioner’s name as leverage) told me she would send another ballot. This would be the third. She said it was actually mailed from Atlanta on Saturday, Oct. 24. (Sec. of State’s Office had received so many complaints about problems with AZ firm that mid-October or so they switched to issuing the ballots directly from the county or at least they did in the case of Fulton County. And that would apply to replacement ballots.)
Thursday, October 29, mail came and no ballot was received. Normally (pre-Dejoy) that would be plenty of time for mail to arrive from Atlanta to Savannah. (However, of note, several years ago in the interest of efficiency, all Savannah mail had to be routed through Jacksonville, both going and receiving. We were told all the mail processing equipment was pulled out of Jacksonville in June, and our mail, outgoing and incoming, really went to pot.)
Anyhow, early evening I frantically sent an email to my Fulton County contact with cc to my county commissioner telling her that no ballot was received and that I was running out of time to even return a received ballot in timely fashion. I offered to have her Fed Ex a ballot to me on my Fed Ex account. She agreed to do this. So, Thursday evening, I emailed her a pre-paid Fed Ex label and she then sent the ballot Fed-Ex Friday morning for Saturday delivery, all of course on my nickel. Fortunately, the Fed Ex’d ballot came Saturday just in time for me to complete it and drive it out to the Savannah Airport Fed Ex facility by 3:30pm close, for Monday morning delivery to Fulton County elections. Total cost to me about $100.
The mailed ballot from Oct. 24 still had not shown up yet with yesterday’s (Saturday’s mail). It did show up in our mailbox today, left by a neighbor, saying it had been left at the wrong address despite clearly labeled for our address. That ballot will of course be discarded.
I am a lawyer by training and know how to push the right buttons in an effort to get problems like this resolved. Sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. Pays to support your local government official, my county commissioner. He really couldn’t do anything, but he did directly forward all my emails to him to our Sec. of State (he is a Republican, as well), and I have no doubt that helped in getting me special attention, if in fact that is what I received. I believe I did.
But, to your piece this PM about voting, how many people have the resources, time, perseverance and knowledge to do what I did? And yet it took me four tries to get my ballot!!
You no doubt have seen coverage in the news about the large number of people supposedly not returning their ballot. In my case, there would be three ballots not returned. How many of those people never received their ballot? The Fulton County election reps I have been working with told me that they were receiving hundreds of complaints a day, if not more, of people who had never received their ballots despite weeks if not longer having passed. (My daughter requested hers in July and received it on Oct. 5. My wife requested hers at the same time and received it in September. Both are registered in Chatham County (Savannah) where, as I said, I am registered in Fulton County (Atlanta). Chatham is a “red” county. Fulton is a “blue” county. Could that in any way be part of the reason for me having all the problems???
A number of the Fulton County elections reps told me that they had not received their absentee ballot. One told me that she waited three weeks and, having received no ballot, voted in person. There is little question in my mind that Georgia’s outsourcing the handling of our absentee ballots has played a role in my ballot problems and those of others. There is NO question in my mind that Trump and DeJoy have successfully interfered with the P.O.’s delivery functions and efficiency in the name of voter suppression and that they are a large part of my ballot problems.
It Trump should win this election, this is one voter, because of the experience outlined above, who will have zero confidence in the outcome of the election. Were it not for our ability to afford Fed Ex, even with the “mailed” ballot received today, I would have to use Fed Ex to get it delivered by Tuesday to Fulton County.
David, our democracy is in trouble. Sorry this is long but, given your interest in this election, I thought you might find my story interesting and of great concern for the November 3 election.
Lisa, another Georgia voter, writes:
“In our exceeding red county in North Georgia, we got our absentee ballots at the end of September. We returned them by mail not too long after, with pickup truck stamps on the envelopes. I confirmed on the My Voter Page that both had been accepted. Voting here has always been easy. That’s obviously not the experience in the Atlanta area.”
For our other Election Day case study, we’re going to use the story of Florida governor Ron DeSantis as reported by the Washington Post: “Gov. Ron DeSantis had trouble voting. A 20-year-old Florida man is to blame, police say,” https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/10/29/florida-man-desantis-voting-address/
|Florida man charged with felonies for changing Gov. Ron DeSantis’s voter registration address – The Washington Post
When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) arrived at his Tallahassee voting site to cast a vote for president on Monday, a clerk told him there was a problem: The governor’s primary address had…
Is voting secure when a 20-year-old can change a voter’s address?
We asked an expert to weigh in on the matter of election security. We were seeking information about “dirty tricks” and a truthful assessment. Here’s an expert opinion. We thank Academy Securities for permission to share General Robert Walsh’s views with our readers.
General Walsh responded:
“It’s a good question as there is no absolute level of security. Manipulating voter registration databases and hacking voting machines are two separate types of attacks. The chance someone manipulating voter registration information is greater than someone hacking polling place machines. The chance of an attack such as on Governor DeSantis’s voter registration address information in the Florida voter registration database is greater than an attack on voting machines that have been hardened by election officials since 2016. Manipulation of voter registration databases by foreign actors would be more aimed at causing chaos at the polling places on election day and discrediting the election process. In this case, it appears to be an isolated instance of an attack on Governor DeSantis that was caught by him at the polling place. The concern would be that if this occurs across large numbers of voters it could cause chaos at polling places as voting officials have to take the time to correct the voter registration address problems before voters vote.
“Last week the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency released a warning that focused on disinformation campaigns to cast doubt in elections. They also said that there is no evidence of cyber-attacks on election infrastructure resulting in compromising an election. There are certainly still vulnerabilities in such a large election infrastructure spread out across 50 states. Since 2016, election officials have worked to close any physical security gaps. A Senate Intelligence Committee report said that there is no evidence that cyber-attacks on any voting machines led to the direct manipulation of election results.”
Happy Election Day. Hope you voted and hope it got honestly counted.
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