MARIETTA — Cobb officials certified the results from last Tuesday’s vote on schedule at midday Monday.
The Cobb County Board of Elections & Registration quickly and without discussion unanimously approved the vote totals at their scheduled noon meeting, following a full weekend of examining 2,284 provisional ballots — those that had been flagged by elections officials, such as a voter casting a ballot at the wrong precinct.
“This was the largest number of provisional ballots we have ever received, and that includes all of the presidential elections that we’ve tackled in the past,” said Janine Eveler, director of Cobb Elections.
The 2016 presidential election saw an estimated 1,600 provisional ballots.
Of the provisional ballots cast in Tuesday’s election, 829 from the polls and via absentee voting were not counted, with Eveler saying that most of the uncounted ballots were from people not registered in Cobb or were not registered to vote at all.
A full breakdown of why the rejected provisional ballots were not counted had not been tallied as of Monday afternoon, but Eveler said that 43 provisional ballots had been flagged for having a signature mismatch. Of those, 20 were counted after the voters that cast the ballots came to election officials to provide proof that their ballots were legitimate.
“When we received the absentee ballot, we determined that the signature was not like anything that we had on file for them, so they were sent a letter by mail, and email if we had it, that what they needed to present was a signed affidavit saying that was their ballot, and a copy of their photo ID,” Eveler said.
The remaining 23 ballots flagged because of their signatures were recommended to be tossed out, which the elections board unanimously voted to do.
Eveler said five provisional ballots had been citizenship challenges, with two voters providing proof of their citizenship and right to vote. The remaining three did not do so in time for their votes to be counted.
“We will spend the next week to 10 days entering all the voter names and the reason for counting or not counting and then sending them a letter telling them what happened,” Eveler said.
No community members objected to the vote certification Monday, and after the board meeting, Eveler said she did not foresee any lawsuits being filed over Cobb’s handling of votes.
“I don’t anticipate it, but I understand that’s sort of where it’s going right now,” she said, alluding to legal actions that had been filed in other counties in the wake of the close governor’s race and a contested U.S. House seat. In the latter, about 900 votes out of nearly 279,000 votes counted separated Republican incumbent Rep. Rob Woodall from his Democratic challenger Carolyn Bourdeaux in Georgia's 7th Congressional District as of Monday, the Associated Press reported. Bourdeaux’s campaign filed a complaint Sunday night accusing Gwinnett County of improperly rejecting hundreds of absentee ballots in the contest.
Cobb’s turnout was 312,510 out of the county’s 486,697 eligible voters, or 64.2 percent. More than a third of the votes cast — 137,691 — were done so by voters taking part in advance voting ahead of the Nov. 6 election day.
By comparison, just 214,490 people, 53.4 percent of Cobb’s registered voters, cast ballots in the 2014 midterms.
This year’s midterm turnout trailed Cobb’s 2016 presidential election totals, in which more than 79 percent of eligible voters showed up, or 335,466 voters. But presidential elections always draw larger crowds.
Write-in votes did not play a huge role in the Cobb elections, with 20 being the largest total of write-in votes cast for certified write-in candidates, Eveler said, with that number directed to one write-in candidate for a statewide office. Nineteen votes were cast for Joseph Pond, an independent who filed as a write-in candidate for the Cobb Commission District 3 seat, which was won by incumbent Republican JoAnn Birrell.