GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — The Gwinnett County Board of Elections added nearly 500 votes to the county’s November election total before certifying them - actions made in compliance with a federal court order.
The new ballots appear to be insufficient to impact the razor-close 7th Congressional District race, between incumbent Republican Rob Woodall and Democratic challenger Carolyn Bourdeaux.
Gwinnett has 364 absentee ballots, previously rejected because the voters inaccurately filled out the “year of birth” line on the ballot form. A court had ordered Gwinnett to include those ballots in the vote total. The Gwinnett Board of Elections will be presented with those votes for approval at its Thursday meeting, said county spokesman Joe Sorenson.
Gwinnett is also adding 15 previously-rejected provisional ballots, most of them rejected because of signature mismatches.
Gwinnett is also adding 113 military and overseas ballots that were received by mail after the Nov. 6 election.
It’s unclear how many of these votes will affect the 7th District race. Though much of Gwinnett is in the 7th District, Gwinnett also has portions of the 10th District, won last week by Republican Jody Hice, and the 4th District, won last week by Democrat Hank Johnson.
But Gwinnett County Board of Registrations and Elections Chairman Stephen Day said that the newly-counted votes weren't enough to make a major change in county elections.
"As a practical matter, it appears the number of ballots that contained errors or omissions in the addresses would not be enough to change the outcome of any election contest still undecided in Gwinnett County or the state," he said.
But he did point to "systemic problems" that need to be addressed at the state level "through changes in state law."
"Clear and concise law needs to be passed that defines and delineates information absolutely necessary for voter identification," Day said. "And also, information needs to be defined and delineated which is supportive information but is not a basis for ballot rejection if that information is incomplete or omitted."
He added that despite philosophical differences on the board, there had been many unanimous decisions that impacted voter participation leading up to the elections.
Thursday, a judge rejected an emergency motion by Bourdeaux to broaden the count of provisional ballots to include out-of-county voters.
The 7th district also includes Forsyth County. Barbara Luth, Forsyth County's director of elections, tells 11Alive News that she doesn't expect the county to recertify its election results because her office didn't reject any absentee ballots due to minor paperwork errors.
The Secretary of State’s website hasn’t updated since 2:12 p.m. Wednesday. A spokeswoman says every county in Georgia has certified its vote total except for Gwinnett County.
Prior to adding the new Gwinnett ballots, Woodall had 140,279 votes; Bourdeaux had 139,746. Bourdeaux's office, in a statement, said that after the certification that she only trails by 419 votes adding that this is well within the margin needed for a recount.
Republican Brian Kemp is nearly 55,000 votes ahead of Democrat Stacey Abrams, who has backed lawsuits to order counties to count previously-rejected ballots.