Georgia’s 2018 Midterm election was notable in multiple ways. First, the state reported record Voter Turnout, consistent with that of a Presidential election. In fact, Turnout in 10 Georgia Counties exceeded that of the 2016 Presidential election. Second, the vote margin at the top of the ticket was slim. The Governor’s race was only 18,000 votes away from a runoff while the Secretary of State and Public Service Commission District 3 races were forced to go to runoff.
A third notable fact is that vote drop-off between the 3.94M votes cast for Governor and the 3.78M votes cast for Lt. Governor was irregularly large as compared with past elections. For comparison, the vote drop-off from Governor to Lt. Governor in the 2018 election was 159,024 votes while vote drop-off in the 2014 Midterm Election was only 21,152.
Despite being the second race on the ballot after Governor, the vote drop-off in 2018 for Lt. Governor was by far the largest of all Statewide races where vote drop-off ranged 55,734 to 95,848. In a Statewide Lt Governor’s race that was decided by approximately 125,000 votes the 159,024 drop-off is material.
One organization, Coalition for Good Governance, has filed a lawsuit alleging that “…faulty, unreliable machines made it impossible to determine the outcome in the 2018 Georgia election for Lt. Governor, in which data experts have determined more than 100,000 votes may have been affected.” According to court filings on December 7, the judge in the case ordered Georgia officials to preserve the electronic evidence on the voting machines used in the recent elections. As of printing, Coalition for Good Governance had not yet received any evidence from the State.
Initial research on the vote drop-off is documented on Democratic Lt. Governor candidate Sarah Riggs Amico’s campaign web site. On her News page, there is a post dated December 13, 2018 which identifies a material difference between 2018 vote drop-off in votes cast by electronic voting machines versus the same voting method in the 2014 election. The post is titled Data Anomaly in the 2018 Georgia Lieutenant Governor Race. Charts posted there seem to indicate that vote drop-off was consistent in 2014 among the three voting methods of electronic machines early voting, electronic machines election day voting, and absentee paper voting. In the 2018 election, we see similar drop-ff results in absentee voting while drop-off for both machine voting early and on election day increases significantly.
According to our analysis, the most significant vote drop-off occurred outside of Metro Atlanta. Of the Counties which reported 5% or more reduction in votes from Governor to Lt. Governor, only Clayton County was included with 4,736 votes fewer for Lt Governor than for Governor. Overall, these smaller mostly rural counties accounted for 42,702 of the overall 159,024 vote drop-off.
Georgia’s four largest metro counties, Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, and Fulton, combined for another 48,725 vote drop-off representing 3-4% of total votes cast for Governor.
Given Georgia’s recent history of questionable election actions and the anomalies in comparisons to vote drop-off in the past Georgia gubernatorial election, particularly in the race for Lt Governor, this issue deserves additional scrutiny. If and when the State provides the discovery materials to Coalition for Good Governance in connection with the lawsuit, Georgia voters can better understand what would cause 159,024 votes to disappear in the face of record turnout and a race which was decided by only 125,000 votes. There are many questions left unanswered and media coverage thus far has been slim. Given Georgia’s recent history of elections issues and its current effort to replace it’s antiquated 16-year old voting machines, this issue deserves the attention of the national election integrity community.