Secretary Handel responds to an editorial in the Macon Telegraph-Herald, citing new laws to protect voters and absentee ballot integrity
By Karen Handel, Georgia Secretary of State
The editorial contends that, "No identification is required for citizens to obtain ballots that can be distributed to others for mail-in voting." This statement could clearly mislead Georgia voters.
Though individual citizens or members of organizations can distribute absentee ballot application forms, the absentee ballot itself is mailed only by the county registrar to the voter that submitted the application.
My office has worked closely with the Georgia General Assembly, including Sen. Cecil Staton, to strengthen laws so that absentee ballot fraud is a felony. This year, we worked for the passage of Senate Bill 387 which requires county elections officials to perform a "triple-check" of signatures on absentee ballots. This means officials must first compare the signature on an absentee ballot application against the signature on the voter's registration card, and then compare the signature on the returned ballot against both the voter registration card and the application.
Senate Bill 387 also requires county officials to securely store returned absentee ballots to prevent opening, tampering and unauthorized access prior to Election Day. My office is aggressively pursuing several cases of alleged absentee ballot fraud and the State Election Board has taken a hard line against fraud. In the past year we have levied over $128,000 in fines against four individuals for violations of absentee ballot law.
Voter fraud is voter fraud, whether committed by mail or in-person at the polls on Election Day. The legislation my office has helped enact in the past two General Assembly sessions helps to ensure that the penalties for fraud, no matter how it is committed, are congruent and serve as a deterrent to individuals or groups seeking to disrupt the Georgia elections process.