Initial stories about voter turnout in Georgia’s primaries noted the dramatic increase in turnout from the prior primaries in 2018. I flagged those stories, but said I wanted to see what the rejection rate for absentee ballots would be, given GA’s switch from using signature matching to using numerical identifiers to validate absentee ballots. The Washington Post now has a story with the numbers on that front:
No counties reported long lines at polling sites or widespread issues with voting systems on Tuesday. As is typical, some polling sites reported opening late or experiencing understaffing, causing several sites in the metro Atlanta area to stay open later. Voters at multiple sites observed by The Post were turned away from the polls and told to vote in a different precinct, leading to some confusion and frustration.
Rejection rates for mail-in ballots, meanwhile, were far lower than they were four years ago. An analysis by The Post shows the rates went from roughly 4.3 percent to 1 percent.
The Post analyzed data released from the office of the secretary of state as of 10 p.m. Thursday. To allow for a proper comparison, only data available two days after the primary in 2018 was used.
Voting advocates had predicted that a new requirement to provide an identification number if voting by mail — either the last four digits of a Social Security number or the number from a state ID — would disenfranchise voters.
But the requirement replaced another controversial rule that had been in effect in 2018, the previous midterm cycle. Known as “exact match,” it had required the information provided on mail ballots, including the voter’s signature, to exactly match existing driver or Social Security records.
The rejection rates in 2018 reflected a significant racial disparity. That year,around 5 percent of Black voters’ ballots were rejected, while just 3.6 percent of White voters’ were. This year, the figures were 1.2 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively, according to data on voter ethnicity from the voter file company L2.
Turnout, meanwhile, was up substantially among voters in both the Democratic and Republican primaries. Among the voting-age population, 23 percent cast ballots, compared with 14.5 percent in 2018.
On the Republican side, 1.2 million Georgians voted, more than twice the number who turned out in 2018. Even in Democrat Stacey Abrams’s uncontested bid for her party’s gubernatorial nomination, 720,000 people voted in the Democratic primary — a nearly 20 percent increase over 2018.
The surge in participation reflected how competitive the GOP races for governor and secretary of state were. Voting rights groups said it also stemmed from their hard work: Ninety-five percent of eligible people in the state are registered to vote this year, according to state data, among the highest rates in the country.