‘As Far as We Know, it’s Not a Thing’: Investigation of ‘Lost’ Absentee Ballots in Georgia Comes Up Very Empty

The already contentious showdown for governor in the state of Georgia got even more tense last week when the Georgia Democratic Party claimed that 4,700 absentee ballot applications were “lost” by DeKalb County officials, stoking concerns that an effort to suppress the black vote was afoot (U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that Dekalb County is 55.1 percent black).

The office for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who also happens to be the Republican gubernatorial nominee running against Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams, responded that they would open an investigation into the Georgia Democratic Party’s claims. Days later, WSB-TV, which broke the story in the first place, has followed up with DeKalb County officials.

WSB-TV was told that “no evidence” has been found that the ballots in question were lost just ahead of Election Day. At the very end of reporter Aaron Diamant‘s Tuesday night report were the details that the Democratic Party has not provided proof upon request to the local news outlet, and that “Every request Diamant has made over the last week to question Democratic party leaders about all this has either been turned down or ignored.”

The Democratic Party of Georgia has claimed that “voters calling our voter protection hotline [said] that 4,700 voters in DeKalb County who requested mail-in ballot applications did not receive ballots from the county board of elections.”

“We have USPS scans that show 4,700 ballot applications were delivered, but the county board has only been able to find 48 of them,” they said.

Elections officials said that they’ve been looking more than a week for the ballots in question and have focused on one Post Office location in Decatur, Ga.. Interviews of the postmaster and a mail carrier who delivers to the elections office has apparently yielded no evidence that the ballots were lost.

“We were just completely flabbergasted that we would have this kind of a claim,” DeKalb County Communications Director Andrew Cauthen said. “We spent over a week and a lot of man hours looking for these alleged missing absentee ballot request forms.”

“There was no evidence that these letters ever made it to any DeKalb County facility,” he continued. “We went to the Post Office, interviewed the postmaster, we studied their processes.”

“As far as we know, it is not a thing,” Cauthen concluded, adding that until someone shows him data that proves the county has the ballots “there’s nothing else to investigate.”

[Image via WSB-TV screengrab]

Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.

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