Georgia Voting Bungled: Hand Recount Drops Democrat Winner to 3rd Place


OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

One of the things some Americans have become concerned about is the integrity of voting in the United States and a new report from Georgia shows that they may have reason to be concerned.

The report showed that a county election in Georgia was off by thousands of votes after a hand recount, and now one candidate is calling for the local elections board not to certify results and to have an “independent review” of the election, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported.

“There is no rational basis for believing that there are not continuing issues with the results,” Orson wrote, “and the results should not be certified with the continuing existence of multiple substantive issues and concerns. Doing so would pose a substantial risk not only to the confidence the public will have in the overall election results from this race but could extend to the entire primary as well as the general election,” DeKalb County commission candidate Marshall Orson said.

Initial results posted shortly after the May 24 Democratic primary had Orson — a longtime school board member trying to transition to the county government — leading the three-candidate race for commission District 2, which covers parts of the Decatur, Brookhaven and Atlanta areas in northwestern DeKalb.

Opponent Lauren Alexander was in second place and, with neither candidate eclipsing the 50% mark, seemingly poised for a runoff with Orson. Michelle Long Spears was in third place, on the outside looking in.


Spears and her team, though, noticed that initial results showed her receiving zero election votes at most precincts in the district.

The secretary of state’s office later admitted that it had made several programming errors in voting equipment that led to errors in how Spears and other candidates’ votes were tallied.

That triggered an attempted re-scan of the District 2 ballots, which ultimately led to a a hand count that concluded around midnight on Memorial Day.

Spears is now in the lead and heading for a runoff election with Alexander and Orson is now in third.

Orson said there are a number of issues with the campaign, including “a failure to provide a cogent and defensible explanation for the multiple discrepancies and issues in this race.”

“Numerous issues have been revealed regarding this race and it is imperative that the public have confidence that the results accurately reflect the will of the voters,” he said. “At this moment in time, the public cannot have such confidence.”

DeKalb’s newest commissioner-elect. John Jackson, chairman of the local Democratic Party, said he supports the board if it chooses to certify the election.

“With the secretary of state’s office admitting that the programming error was on their end as far as bad reporting,” he said, “the SOS and local elections offices have to look forward to the runoff and general election and plan on how they not let this happen again.”


The DeKalb GOP has also asked for the certification to be delayed and for hand recounts to be done.

“After reviewing the hand and machine count results for the DeKalb County Commissioner District 2 Race, we will be submitting a letter to formally request a full county-wide hand recount,” DeKalb GOP Chair Marci McCarthy said.

The ACLU of Georgia has also weighed in, using the DeKalb situation to criticize SB 202, the state’s newest election law. In a recent press release, the organization said the shortened window for certification made it “challenging enough” for local elections officials to ensure an accurate account under normal circumstances and “nearly impossible” in closes races and ones with technical problems that need to be addressed.

“The constrained certification deadline and four-week runoff period severely burden local election offices and give voters less time to make their voices heard,” executive director Andrea Young said.

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