Georgia Can’t Say How Many Eligible Voters It’s Currently Disenfranchising

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This morning we told you that election officials in Georgia are throwing out ballots cast by new voters who couldn’t prove their citizenship, on the orders of the Republican secretary of state, Karen Handel.

And now Handel’s office says it can’t say how many of those disqualified ballots were actually cast by eligible voters.

A spokesman for the office insisted to TPMmuckraker that most of the voters originally identified through the state’s system for finding non-citizens had self-identified as being such. But voting-rights groups argue that that system — which checks registrations against state drivers records — is flawed, and could lead to be eligible voters being included through data entry errors and other administrative errors.

Handel’s office couldn’t yet say how many mistakes had been made, though the spokesman added that the information would soon become available as information from individual counties came in.

In other words, the office can’t say how many eligible voters cast ballots that are now being thrown out.

The dispute began back in October, when voting-rights groups including the ACLU sued the state over an effort by Handel to purge from the rolls newly registered voters whose citizenship was called into question by the state’s database.

A judge ultimately ruled that the state must allow the voters whose citizenship was in question — around 5000 — to cast provisional ballots, and must inform them of the challenge to their eligibility. The voters would then have to show documents proving their citizenship, either on Election Day or in subsequent days, in order for their ballot to be counted.

As we wrote earlier today, many voters did so, but in some counties, around a third did not, causing their some of their ballots to be disqualified starting today. But it now appears almost certain that some ballots cast by eligible voters who were mistakenly flagged, and who then failed to provide election officials with the necessary documents after the fact, are being wrongly thrown out.

We’ll continue to keep you posted as more information becomes available…