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Georgia Legislature Announces Investigation Into Widespread Reports of ‘Election Irregularities’

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 18: Voters cast ballots during the early voting period at C.T. Martin Natatorium and Recreation Center on October 18, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. Early voting started in Georgia on October 15th. Georgia's Gubernatorial election is a close race between Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams and Republican candidate Brian Kemp. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Following widespread reports of problems at a swath of voting locations in Georgia, state lawmakers on Tuesday announced that they would be launching an investigation into “election irregularities.”

Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms began tweeting about the difficulties voters were facing just after 7:30 a.m., writing that one of the largest voting precincts in Atlanta said they didn’t have any working voting machines.

“This seems to be happening throughout Atlanta and perhaps throughout the county. People have been in line since before 7:00 am this morning,” Mayor Bottoms said, adding, “If you are in line, PLEASE do not allow your vote to be suppressed. PLEASE stay in line. They should offer you a provisional ballot if the machines are not working.”

Republican Speaker of the House David Ralston said he had directed the House Governmental Affairs Committee to investigate the irregularities experienced across the state.

“We are hearing anecdotes from around the state – particularly in Fulton County – this morning of unacceptable deficiencies: poll workers not being properly trained, voting equipment not working and absentee ballots not being received among other issues,” the speaker said.

“Our poll workers give of their time to serve Georgians, and they do not deserve to be blamed for systemic problems beyond their control. The legislative branch of government has an obligation to go beyond the mutual finger-pointing and get to the truth and the real reasons underlying these frustrations and concerns.”

Ralston added that the committee’s investigation would focus on identifying the problems to ensure they could be corrected before any future elections.

In an interview with Fox 5 Atlanta, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said that Fulton County “should be embarrassed,” reasoning that the county leadership had “months to prepare” for Tuesday’s election.

Raffensperger’s office told local news outlet WXIA-TV that issues with the new state-issued voting machines were not technical, instead saying that the reports showed “poll workers not understanding setup or how to operate voting equipment.”

“While these are unfortunate, they are not issues of the equipment but a function of counties engaging in poor planning, limited training, and failures of leadership,” the statement said.

However, this was contradicted by the DeKalb County Board of Registration and Elections.

“Polling places statewide are experiencing technical difficulties this morning. If you are experiencing issues, please call the [DeKalb County Board of Elections] office at 404-298-4020 to report time, polling place, and the problem.”

[image via Jessica McGowan/Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.