LUDOWICI, Ga. - An election battle in southeast Georgia has turned into a challenge questioning the integrity of absentee ballots cast in the race.
The lawyer for a magistrate judge who lost by nine votes in Long County says the disturbing pattern of a small number of people voting twice could reverberate across the nation.
Absentee or mail-in ballots seem to be on everyone's mind these election days. With a pandemic roaring through precincts across America, more and more voters are turning to mail-in ballots for an election day cure for an uncommon virus.
But, that simple paper ballot is kindling for a partisan firestorm. Or Tweetstorm as President Trump has tweeted mail-in ballots will lead to election fraud.
"You got to go and vote. People have to check you. They have to see that it's you, said President Trump.
"This case confirms mail-in ballot fraud is a real thing. It is happening," said attorney Jake Evans.
Jake Evans thinks he has already found signs of mail-in trouble. Evans specializes in election law and is the son of President Trump's US Ambassador to Luxembourg Randy Evans.
Evans says seven people voted twice in a hotly contested local race in southeast Georgia. Four people voted by absentee ballot then later walked into a precinct and voted again.
"The very fact that you can vote twice in elections is blatantly disturbing," said Evans.
Evans found these absentee ballot issues when Long County incumbent Magistrate Court Chief Judge Bobby Smith hired him to investigate his recent election day loss.
Long County is in southeast Georgia not far from the coast. It is close to Hinesville and Fort Stewart; the county seat is Ludowici.
After a recount following the June election, it was determined incumbent Magistrate Judge Bobby Smith lost by only nine votes.
Smith challenged the election, filing a petition to have the results thrown out and start over claiming people outside "Long county voted in the Election," "eligible voters were wrongly being turned away," and that officials "wrongly rejected and illegally counted absentee ballots."
(People voted in their absentee ballot, and then later walked in and voted in the poll?) "That's exactly right." (How can that happen?) "It's a breakdown," said Evans.
Evans contends along with the seven people who voted twice in the election, seven more cast illegal votes because they failed to sign their absentee ballot application and should never have received a ballot. And, he claims numerous people were issued absentee ballots when people not allowed by law requested the ballot on the voter's behalf.
One voter told Evans how and why he voted twice.
"He said I voted early in person and then I went back to vote on election day. And I just wanted to see if I could vote twice and I did it," said Evans.
"It still baffles me. I have no idea how people voted twice. I’ve never tried it, I’ve never wanted to try it, I guess that’s why it blows my mind," said Judge Smith.
In Ludowici, Judge Bobby Smith awaits his political fate. As people go about their daily routine, he wonders whether a judge will throw out the results or let the election stand.
(What's the worst part of this?) "Knowing that I wasn’t given a fair shake, and knowing that the people of Long County were cheated, said Judge Smith.
Late today, the winning candidate in the Magistrate Judge's race, Teresa Odum, and her attorney told the I-Team they don't believe there was any voter fraud and they plan to fight the petition to have the race results thrown out.