MARIETTA — Dozens of elections workers, volunteers and county staff continued Tuesday whittling down the number of outstanding ballots in Cobb from the June 9 primary.
They went from 9,500 at 10 a.m. to 3,000 by 5 p.m., according to county spokesman Ross Cavitt.
The 3,000 remaining absentee ballots are down from 16,800 on Monday afternoon. A total of 106,000 were cast.
All in-person votes cast in the county, whether early or on Election Day, have already been counted. Those totaled about 70,000.
The remaining 3,000 ballots are damaged ballots that need to be duplicated by workers so they can be scanned or ballots that show unclear votes and will have to be reviewed by a voter review panel, Cavitt said.
When ballots must be reviewed — for example when someone has dropped their pen on one bubble but colored in another fully — the voter review panel makes a judgment about which candidate in an unclearly marked race the voter was intending to cast a ballot for, according to Cavitt.
If the panel can’t agree, a representative of the Board of Elections and Registration casts the tie-breaking vote. If voter intent can’t be determined, Cavitt said the race is left blank.
An important note, said absentee ballot supervisor Allison Schaffer, is that the process is not throwing away people’s vote. She said “no-vote” determinations are made on an individual basis for each race on the reviewed ballots.
In that case, or in a case where all possible bubbles are colored in on a ballot, then the voter would likely be determined to have decided not to vote, she said.
“What that voter is credited with is voting. (Their) choice might have been — instead of writing ‘nobody,’ or ‘not you,’ or ‘Mickey Mouse’ — (they) were showing, ‘I’m not voting for any of them,” Schaffer said. “But our scanners won’t accept an over-voted ballot, it will accept a blank ballot.”
PROVISIONAL BALLOTSOn Tuesday afternoon, Schaffer said many of the elections workers in one of the massive rooms at Jim Miller Park were sorting through about 300 of the 1,250 provisional ballots cast on Election Day.
Provisional ballots are used when there are questions about a voter’s eligibility that have to be addressed before the vote can count.
Like many of the absentee ballots in recent days, those provisionals were being duplicated on to new ballots for tallying.
“Previously we were doing just straight duplication, — there was a rip, there was a tear, there was coffee stains, some dog ate the ballot,” Schaffer said.
Now, she said, registrars have determined that approximately 300 of the provisional ballots that returned from the precincts need to be transferred onto clean ballots. That’s because some voters may have used provisional ballots after coming to the wrong voting precinct, she said.
In that case, races on the provisional ballots that do not properly correspond to the Cobb voter’s voting district will not be counted. Likewise, candidates that would have appeared on the voter’s ballot if they had gone to the precinct in their voting district will be marked as “no-votes.”
Cavitt said there is no estimate yet as to when county staff will finish counting the ballots, but the Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration is set to certify the elections on Friday.