Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger referred Coffee, Grady, and Taylor Counties for investigation because officials had failed to complete the absentee ballot transfer forms that were required by Georgia Rules and Regulations, according to a press release.
These three counties accounted for 0.37% of all the absentee ballots cast in the state in the November election. According to the statement on Thursday, all of the other 120 counties that used drop boxes completed and retained ballot transfer documents.
With an unprecedented number of absentee ballots cast in the state due to the pandemic, an emergency rule was added by the State Election Board to allow for drop boxes.
This rule required counties with drop boxes "to fill out ballot transfer forms that included the date, time, location, and number of ballots in the drop boxes whenever election officials collected ballots from the drop box."
"Since day one, I have made securing Georgia’s election a top priority and I have not stopped working since then," Secretary Raffensperger said in his statement. "Though the overwhelming majority of counties did what they were supposed to, this demonstrates that new steps need to be taken to fully secure our elections. Securing elections is work that is never truly finished."
State officials, including Raffensperger, have come under fire since the recent passage of their voter reform package. This legislation, named the Election Integrity Act of 2021, was created to restore confidence and accountability in state elections.
At the center of the controversy is the requirement of a state identification number for applicants requesting absentee ballots. In order to verify their ballots, voters will be required to provide either their state identification number or the last four digits of their Social Security number.
The state offers a free ID Card to any resident who cannot afford one.
Democrats believe that requiring a voter to provide identification to procure an absentee ballots is onerous and amounts to voter suppression. Republicans argue that it's necessary to make sure that only those who are eligible to vote receive a ballot and that they are who they say they are.
Asked at his press conference last month about Georgia's new voting reform measures, President Joe Biden replied, "What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick. It’s sick ... deciding that you’re going to end voting at five o’clock when working people are just getting off work."
The next day, Biden again attacked Georgia's new legislation again in a statement which said, "Among the outrageous parts of this new state law, it ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over."
A fact check of these remarks by The Washington Post earned the president "Four Pinocchios."
The CEOs of Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines, and others joined the fray. And, as was widely reported last week, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred made the decision to pull the All-Star Game out of Atlanta, Georgia, which will deprive the city of an estimated $100 million of revenue.
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