WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Sunday, Nov. 6, several Cobb County, Georgia voters filed a lawsuit in state court after they didn’t receive absentee ballots to vote in Tuesday’s midterm elections. The lawsuit alleges that Cobb County failed to send nearly 1,000 absentee ballots to voters in time for Tuesday’s election, risking the possibility that the voters who requested but didn’t receive absentee ballots will be disenfranchised. The lawsuit asks the court to issue immediate relief so that these voters can participate in the midterm elections.
According to the complaint, “approximately 1,036 absentee ballots marked as issued on October 13, 2022, and October 22, 2022, [were] never…mailed due to staff error.” As a result, the plaintiffs — including a woman currently residing outside the county to care for her elderly mother — “will likely not be able to participate in the November 8, 2022…election despite properly registering to vote, requesting their absentee ballot by the absentee ballot request deadline, and often contacting the Cobb Board multiple times on their own to find out about the status of their absentee ballot request.” For the plaintiffs, voting in person on Election Day would require traveling between 400-4,200 miles roundtrip.The plaintiffs argue that Cobb County’s failure to send these absentee ballots violates both Georgia law and the fundamental right to vote in the Georgia Constitution. They ask the court to order the county to mail ballots overnight to the affected voters, extend the ballot return deadline to Nov. 14, allow impacted voters who do not receive a ballot by 12 p.m. on Election Day to vote using the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot and provide immediate notice to the voters so they know their options.
Cobb County’s error is possibly a consequence of Senate Bill 202, Georgia’s omnibus voter suppression law enacted last year. S.B. 202 shortened the time period county officials had to send out requested absentee ballots, placing greater administrative burdens on election workers and making mistakes more likely.