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State opens investigation after Georgia man with generic name struggles to vote

A spokesperson with the Secretary of State’s Office told 11Alive they’ve discovered the root of the issue.

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Editor's Note: The video above is from a previous report.

An investigation has been opened into a Georgia county board of elections after it was discovered a man’s voting record was moved three times.

Michael Smith learned his voting record was moved from Cobb County to Camden County three times over the last few years. Smith has lived at the same address for 16 years and never requested a new voter registration card in any other county.

When Cobb County’s Smith tried to vote on Oct. 24, 25, and 26 this year, he learned his record was once again transferred to Camden County. Smith also learned someone else requested an absentee ballot and voted on his record, leaving him unable to cast his own ballot.

RELATED: Georgia man's generic name apparently causing voting issues

The Cobb County Board of Elections said they're familiar with the situation as it “keeps happening."

"The other county keeps transferring the voter record because they have a Michael Smith, and they keep mistaking this voter for their voter,” an email response read.

The spokesperson added Cobb County usually contacts the other county to correct the record. However, they added they can’t stop another county from mistakenly moving the voting record.

In a phone call, a spokesperson with the Secretary of State’s Office said they’ve discovered the root of the issue. 

As it turns out, Michael Smith in Cobb County shares not only a name, but the exact same birthdate -- month, day, and year -- as a man named Michael Smith in Camden County. 

On paper, the two are the same person.

At one point, the two were issued the same driver’s license number. Since the driver’s license number is one way Georgians register to vote, Camden County thought their Smith was the Cobb County Smith. This may be one of the reasons Camden County moved Cobb County Smith's voting record without his knowledge or consent on multiple occasions.

The error also allowed Camden County’s Smith the ability to vote -- by mistake-- as the Cobb County Smith.

The SOS spokesperson called the error a rare circumstance but also acknowledged at some point the error should have been caught by Camden County election officials.

As a result, an investigation’s been opened into why Camden County officials "couldn’t get their voter registered properly." The spokesperson said the investigation will generate a report for the state elections board which could result in recommendations for possible fines or other corrective actions.

As for both the Camden County and Cobb County’s Smiths, the SOS spokesperson said they will both be allowed to cast a regular ballot -- and hopefully will not be confused for the same person again.

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