By John Schaffner
Supporters of Mary Norwood say they have discovered some quirks in the election laws and processes that they believe can make it difficult and costly to challenge votes.
In an interview Dec. 14, less than a week after conceding the election to Mayor-elect Kasim Reed, Norwood said she feels it is important for people to understand the way that the process works.
“In order to challenge an election, you have to show that there are enough demonstrable instances of illegal voting to overturn it,” explained Norwood, who gained only one vote in the recount. “That would mean 715-plus instances,” in the case of the runoff, which was won by Reed by 714 votes.
Another twist in the election process related to checking voters, Norwood said, is that on voting day, a campaign staff “can acquire very easily the names of people who voted and the registration numbers.” But, with early voting and absentee voting, she said, “you only get the names, not the registration numbers.”
Norwood further explained that even with the voting-day information, addresses are not provided.
That is important if a campaign staff or supporters want to check to see if people who cast votes had a valid residential address. A group of Norwood supporters, who called themselves Citizens for Fair Atlanta Elections, attempted to gain that information in order to check out rumors of people voting using addresses that were no longer valid, a rumor that was unfounded.
A recent change in the law also came into play with the Norwood camp’s checking of the vote data. “A person’s date of birth is now considered to be proprietary information,” Norwood said. “We were told 84,000 [voter] records would have to have that information inked out and that would have to be done by hand.” She said she thinks that was going to cost 25 cents per copy.
“All of a sudden, you are looking at a major sum of money,” she said. “On top of that, you would have to pay someone an hourly rate to do the work.”
Norwood believes a person’s date of birth is pretty standard information. “There was no way to look at those with the time constraint and the date-of-birth wrinkle,” Norwood said. “Maybe the thing to do in the future is to not have it be part of the form.”
Norwood said her supporters uncovered situations at some precincts where the photo ID had not been checked and relayed two instances on the northside where residents went to vote and were told they had already voted. “How did that happen?” she asked. “Everyone deserves to have confidence in their government and in an election.”