Critics question newly appointed Absentee Ballot Fraud Task Force

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Supporters of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s Absentee Ballot Fraud Task Force say it is part of an effort to keep Georgia’s elections safe. But critics say it sends the wrong message to voters.

United States Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia Bobby Christine is one of ten members on the task force. He says the mission aligns well with one the Department of Justice has been pursuing for decades.

“It’s our hope that we don’t uncover any shenanigans in the election process,” he said. “What we’re experiencing now, particularly with the mailing of all these absentee ballots, is that election day is already upon us. So we want to make sure every citizen realizes they can call any of us.”

If you experience or witness a problem with absentee ballots, Christine says to utilize this link to report it. Violating election laws is a federal crime that will potentially result in fines and incarceration.

Critics — including League of Women Voters of the Coastal Empire President Rebecca Rolfes — say resources diverted to the task force could be used for better initiatives.

“There just is not a lot of evidence of voter fraud on absentee ballots and even less evidence in the state of Georgia,” she said.

U.S. Attorney Christine says the Southern District has not prosecuted any case related to absentee ballots in the last few election cycles.

Christine’s colleagues on the task force include 4 district attorneys, 2 solicitor generals, 1 assistant district attorney and 2 elections supervisors.

“It’s very heavily weighted toward prosecutors rather than election monitors,” said Rolfes. “So it takes on this very legalistic almost adversarial feel to it that is kind of off-putting.”

Both sides do agree that absentee voting — which is ramping up because of coronavirus concerns — is safer now than in previous years.

“Absentee ballots used to be counted by hand, now they’re scanned… I just don’t see what the who-ha is about [absentee voter fraud], if you will, and therefore, I don’t like the possibility of raising doubts in people’s minds,” said Rolfes.

“If we can make Georgians aware of our diligence and enlist their assistance to report anything that raises eyebrows, then we’ll be able to deter any sort of election interference,” said Christine.

May 11 — according to the Secretary of State’s Office — is the last day to register to vote in Georgia’s Presidential Preference Primary election. The election is postponed until June 9.

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