COBB COUNTY, Ga. — The State Election Board has opened a second investigation into Cobb County over a failure to mail absentee ballots requested for general election, a spokesperson with the board said Saturday.
The first investigation was opened in November after Cobb County failed to mail ballots to over 1,000 voters. The county responded to the problem by saying the oversight was a product of "human error."
The Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia and Dechert LLP took legal action against the Cobb Board of Elections, according to a news release. They alleged officials failed to send the absentee ballots in a timely matter during the early voting period.
The complaint alleging some Cobb County residents were at risk of not being able to cast their absentee ballots in time for the Senate runoff has led to an extension for the county to receive them, court documents show.
However, Cobb election director Janine Eveler explained on Thursday the process it takes to approve the ballots to get them issued. She said the soonest her office could approve the applications and prepare them to be mailed was on Nov. 21; they issued 15,000 on that date that then needed to be printed and put in the mail. Eveler said Thursday her office had been in touch with the postal service and hadn't learned of any delays.
Court documents said the defendants asserted at the hearing that the ballots were not issued in an untimely manner.
However, a Cobb County superior court judge agreed with the plaintiffs and issued a consent order for an extension. County election officials said voters who had an absentee ballot request accepted on or before Nov. 26 will still have their ballot accepted if the office receives it by Dec. 9. They must be postmarked by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Dec. 6. This is also the same deadline for Uniformed and Overseas Voters.
The court documents state those who haven't received their absentee ballot should be allowed to use the federal write-in absentee ballot. These must also be postmarked by Election Day. Voters can also vote in-person at their polling location on Election Day.
The State Election Board said they will monitor the lawsuit as it continues to unfold.