Lawsuits, complaints about lax security and accusations of voter suppression marred Georgia’s election for governor in November. But the state’s race for lieutenant governor had its own trouble, Democrats and election security advocates say. The contest between Republican Geoff Duncan and Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico drew far less national attention than the marquee governor’s race in which GOP candidate Brian Kemp narrowly defeated Stacey Abrams. But plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state say abnormalities in the lieutenant governor’s election raise questions about Duncan’s victory — and potentially about the outcome of other races on the ballot if the state’s electronic voting machines were to blame. In addition to the lawsuit, Amico asked the state to investigate irregularities in the election. The problem: Georgians cast nearly 4 million ballots on Election Day, but about 160,000 of them showed no vote cast in the lieutenant governor race, about 4.3 percent of ballots. To election experts, this so-called “undervote” rate — when a race is left blank — is evidence either that Georgia voters were unusually apathetic about their lieutenant governor, or that something went wrong.
It’s normal for 1 to 2 percent of voters to skip a race or races on a ballot, election experts say. But besides being more than double that normal rate, the number of uncast votes in the lieutenant governor race also exceeded Duncan’s margin of victory over Amico, which was just 123,172 votes.
The puzzling numbers call new attention to Georgia’s paperless, touchscreen voting machines, which drew lawsuits in 2017 from election-integrity groups that say the machines are not secure and want the state to switch to paper ballots that can be audited. Those lawsuits are ongoing, but after the midterm elections one of the groups, the Coalition for Good Governance, filed a second lawsuit with two Georgia voters and the losing Libertarian candidate for Georgia secretary of state, to invalidate the lieutenant governor results and conduct a forensic examination of the voting machines.