Faulty software or poorly calibrated vote-tabulation scanners used to count mailed-in ballots in this week’s chaotic Georgia primary may have prevented thousands of votes from being counted, election officials and voting integrity activists said.
The issue was identified in at least four counties, DeKalb, Morgan, Clarke and Cherokee, according to officials who discovered them, including activists who have sued the state for alleged election mismanagement.
“The fact that it is in multiple counties tells me that it’s probably systemic,” said Richard DeMillo, a Georgia Tech computer scientist who has testified for the plaintiffs, because identical scanners and software were used to count all absentee ballots across the state. DeMillo said the only way to know for sure is through audits.
A top Georgia voting official, voting implementation manager Gabriel Sterling, said Friday that he had seen no evidence yet of the issue and found it difficult to believe the reports were “an active description of what is happening on the ground.”
“These are activists who have an ax to grind,” he said.
Nearly 1.1 million Georgians voted by mail for Tuesday’s primary, which had been delayed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In-person voting Tuesday was beset by cascading failures. Voters waited up to five hours to cast ballots at some polling places due to equipment problems, poll worker unfamiliarity with a new voting system and social distancing measures taken because of the virus. Many voters also showed up to vote in person because absentee ballots they requested never arrived by mail.
People vote at voting booths in the Georgia’s primary electin at Park Tavern on June 9, 2020, in Atlanta.