Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Rural Georgia voters twice as likely to be investigated for fraud, says Daily Yonder analysis

Experts say poor training of poll workers in rural Georgia has led to a disproportionate number of voting fraud charges being levied in rural areas, Tim Marema reports for the Daily Yonder. The Georgia State Election Board reviewed 250 separate cases in 2015 and 2016, with one-third coming from rural areas. Less than one-fifth of Georgia electorate lives in rural counties.

"A Daily Yonder analysis of State Elections Board records shows that rural voters are about twice as likely to be investigated as urban voters are," Marema writes. "Over a two-year period, the State Elections Board investigated rural voters at a rate of about 1 for every 23,000 votes. Urban voters were investigated at a rate of about 1 investigation per 52,000 votes."

Candice Broce, spokeswoman for the Georgia Secretary of State's office, told Marema, “It’s definitely a resource issue — it comes down to money. In metropolitan areas, local governments have more time and money to spend on training. Non-metro doesn’t.”

One problem is that each of the state's 159 counties is responsible for conducting its own election, Marema. That can make it difficult for voting rights groups to monitor every county, especially smaller, more remote ones, said Fred McBride, with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. He told Marema, "Voting rights organizations oftentimes don’t have the resources to go to every single site. So where do you go first? You go to the places that make the most noise. You go to the bigger cities first and you deal with that. Unfortunately, that’s just the dynamics of it.”

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