Voting-rights groups believe there’s been an “excessive rejection” of absentee ballots by election officials in Georgia’s Gwinnett County.
Records from the secretary of state’s office, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, show that the county is throwing out 1 in 10 absentee ballots—higher than any other county in the state—for mismatched signatures, missing addresses and incomplete forms.
“They’re putting an extra burden on someone to come back in to get another absentee ballot. That’s unheard of,” Helen Butler, executive director for the Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, a civil rights group, told the newspaper.
Fewer than 2 percent of vote-by-mail ballots were rejected throughout Georgia through Sunday, but in Gwinnett County, that figure is noticeably higher at 8.5 percent or 390 ballots. Per the reports, 37 percent of rejected ballots in the state come from Gwinnett County.
County spokesman Joe Sorenson told the AJC on Monday that he “can’t draw any conclusions” as to why the number of rejections was so high, adding that the county is following state law.
More than 60 percent of residents in Gwinnett County are Latino, Black or Asian, said Jerry Gonzalez, executive director for the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials. He added that the rejected ballots are a “red flag.”
“Gwinnett County needs oversight to ensure it does not disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters this election cycle,” said Gonzalez.
The gubernatorial race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp is being closely watched.
Kemp, the secretary of state for Georgia, has been accused of not processing more than 53,000 voter registration applications and for purging millions of registrations.
Early voting begins in Georgia on Oct. 15.