Provisional ballots could play important role in Mid-Term Election

Published: Nov. 3, 2014 at 11:00 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 3, 2014 at 11:00 PM EST
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CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - With only 14 hours until polls open, Campaign 2014 is entering the final stretch. Or is it?

Poll managers are picking up voter rolls at the Chatham County Board of Elections, and voter rolls could be particularly critical this year. But Georgia's biggest races, for Governor and U.S. Senate, could be decided not at the ballot box, but in a courtroom.

That's because last week a state court judge threw out a lawsuit from the New Georgia Project against the Board of Elections of five Georgia counties, including Chatham County.

The group, which is officially non-partisan but has strong alliances in the Democratic Party, was seeking to force the Georgia Secretary of State, a Republican, to account for 40,000 newly registered voted who the New Georgia Project said hadn't been properly added to the rolls.

It's important that this year polls are showing the two candidates in the race for U.S. Senate are running neck-in-neck.

That means provisional ballots could matter more than ever. Voters file those ballots when their names aren't on the rolls, when they vote at the wrong polling place and when they don't bring the proper ID to the polls.

Under Georgia Law, elections and voter registration offices have three days to track down those registration issues and voters have three days to bring proper ID to the polls.

Right now national publications including The Hill and the Huffington Post are writing that the New Georgia Project issues may mean more provisional ballots. The chair of the University of Georgia's Political Science Dept. said he doesn't think the New Georgia Project issues will have an impact.

“Both parties I think have retained fleets of lawyers that they can fly down at a moment's notice if they think it's necessary in order to try to ensure that their supporters' votes are being counted, even though they're being contested,” said Prof. Charles Bullock.

Both Republican David Perdue and Democrat Michelle Nunn are hoping to avoid a runoff. To do that, they'll need to get more than 50 percent of the vote, and with a Libertarian candidate expected to get a sliver of votes, it's looking like this race might be headed for a January runoff, and maybe a court battle in the meantime.

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