Wonkette photoshoop

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is trying to make sense of a little electoral mystery from Georgia's 2018 elections: Roughly 100,000 votes in the state's race for lieutenant governor appear to have gone missing from electronic voting machines. It's the sort of thing that would have Lieutenant Columbo scratching his head and wondering out loud how such a thing could have happened, because it just doesn't make a lot of sense. In any election, the longer the ballot is, the more likely people are to skip filling in votes for down-ballot races. But in Georgia in 2018, there was a huge drop-off in votes between the governor's race and the lieutenant-governor race. Now, MAYBE that simply reflected far lower interest, since the lieutenant governor's contest wasn't nearly as interesting as the fight between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams.

But weirdly, the number of votes in down-ballot races were actually higher than in the lt.-gov. race, meaning

fewer votes were counted for lieutenant governor than for labor commissioner, insurance commissioner and every other statewide contest lower on the ballot. Roughly 80,000 fewer votes were counted for lieutenant governor than in other down-ballot elections.

That, says the Democratic candidate, Sarah Riggs Amico, is pretty odd. She lost the election to Republican Geoff Duncan, and despite her requests, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger isn't interested in investigating the anomaly, because maybe lots of people just didn't care as much about the second-listed election as they did about the hotly contested insurance commissioner race.

But there's no absolute proof of any fuckery, so there's no need to investigate, you see? It's the Georgia Way.

There are other reasons to wonder what the hell went on with the voting machines in the lieutenant governor's race. Like for instance the fact that

Among absentee ballots cast, there is no violent drop-off in the race for lieutenant governor. The gentle downward slope rules. The canyon appears only among early votes or Election Day votes, all cast via touch-screen voting machines.

And then there's this:

The voting anomalies appear to have happened within the most Democratic of Georgia's counties, including DeKalb, Fulton and Clayton. Statewide, Amico appears to have been affected more than Duncan. She ran 95,119 votes behind Abrams, a 5 percent drop-off. Duncan ran 26,670 votes behind Kemp, a 1.3 percent decrease.

How very curious! If it were a uniform drop in interest, you'd expect a uniform drop in the totals. And yes, there's more:

In addition, the drop-off in votes grew more extreme in precincts with large African American populations, according to an analysis by TargetSmart, a data-tracking firm affiliated with the Democratic Party.

"Was this completely voter behavior and confusion, or was there something in the machine software or hardware to cause this to happen?" asked Chris Brill, a senior data analyst for TargetSmart. "I've never seen a drop-off pattern like this, ever."

Maybe Democrats and black voters are just much more superficial than the serious people who vote Republican, and were only interested in voting for Abrams because she was an Oprah-endorsed celebrity. That must be it.

The Journal-Constitution is sifting through some 15,500 pages of documents covering alleged voting irregularities in 2018, and the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee is also investigating Georgia's weirdass trainwreck of an election. Among other things, the paper found a voting machine in one precinct that recorded a win for Republicans in every single race, even though the other six machines in that precinct recorded wins for Democrats in every single race. Because that's a thing that happens ... one in a million times!

The odds of an anomaly that large are less than 1 in 1 million, according to a statistician's analysis in court documents. The strange results would disappear if votes for Democratic and Republican candidates were flipped on machine No. 3.

How do you like that? And as it happens, that's the very same polling place where Brian Kemp had a problem with his voter access card, but that was totally unrelated, just a funny coincidence.

The paper has some really good questions!

Why would voters skip the lieutenant governor's race on electronic voting machines but not on paper absentee ballots? Why would African American voters be disproportionately affected? If votes disappeared, could they have changed the results of the lieutenant governor's race?

The reporters keep asking these questions, I'll tell ya, they just can't help themselves, what a nasty habit. They worry they make themselves a pest sometimes. Thank you for indulging them.

And yet state officials just don't seem all that interested in the answers, because they have refused to investigate a bit of this. Georgia's elections were clean, according to Kemp, who was at the time the secretary of state and in charge of running the very fair election where he "beat" Stacey Abrams.

Oh, and the county elections chief where the machine seems to have flipped the R and D totals? She doesn't think there's anything to worry about, either. It's Georgia!

Speaking of It's Georgia, we should also note here that Senator Johnny Isakson, the state's senior US senator, announced Wednesday he will be resigning at the end of the year, due to health problems. Gov. Kemp will appoint a short-term replacement, but there will be a special election next year to fill the remainder of Isakson's term, to 2022. That will be held along with the regular election, in which Senator David Perdue will be running for another term. Ms. Amico has already announced her intention to run against Perdue, which means the Democrats will need a candidate for the special election.

Stacey Abrams already ruled out a run against Perdue, and on Wednesday she said she wasn't interested in running in the special election, either. Abrams is instead dedicated to her new voting rights initiative, Fair Fight Action, which will be fighting Republican efforts at voter suppression. In addition to suing Georgia over irregularities in 2018, Fair Fight will target 20 other states in advance of the 2020 elections, both in the big elections, and in the down-ballot races that really also too matter very much.

Fair Fight 2020 will train staff members in battleground states to help repair inaccurate voter rolls, deal with the shortages of voting machines and provisional ballots, and adopt standardized rules around counting absentee ballots. They will also work to increase participation in the 2020 census, which determines congressional apportionment as well as funding for a wide range of services.

Well, OK, we'd really love to see Abrams in the Senate, but yeah, fair elections everywhere is kind of important, too. Has she looked into getting cloned?

[AJC / AJC / Hill / Politico / Facing South / Wonkette photoshoop based on photo by Steven Depolo, Creative Commons license 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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