A quick Google search for “voter fraud” will bring you about 22 million results. Some sites call it a myth and others warn readers to take it more seriously. But, what exactly constitutes “voter fraud?”
“To us, that’s anyone who knowingly makes a falsification or gives any false information on a voter registration form, a voter certificate—again, knowingly. We consider that fraud,” said Director of Elections and Voter Registration in Athens-Clarke County Charlotte Sosebee.
The U.S government places federal election crimes into three broad categories—including voter fraud and voter registration, “such as when a vote is illegally cast in the name of a dead person or someone who’s moved,” they elaborate.
But Athens-Clarke County has measures in place to keep that from occurring, like consistently updating its pending voter list.
Prior to registering to vote, a person must fill out an application. The information is then entered into the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections system and is considered pending for 24 hours. The name, social security number, driver’s license number and certification verification then go into processing.
If the information goes “unmatched,” officials contact the voter so that the voter has time to clear up the situation.
Sosebee said sometimes the “unmatched” statuses are pending on age (if a person registered to vote at 17.5 instead of 18), driver’s license services information and pending social security number. According to Sosebee, often times, that happens if there has been a name change.
“We try to do everything we can possible so that there aren’t any cases of voter fraud, but of course sometimes things happen,” said Sosebee.
Sometimes it’s knowingly and unknowingly. The ones who don’t know, we try to educate. Those who do know, of course there are precautions and consequences.”
Sosebee said they educate their poll workers, as well, about voter fraud in terms of falsifying information.
Although she isn’t aware of any cases in Athens-Clarke County, she said they are always keeping an eye out to ensure that Election Day runs as smoothly as possible.
“I’m sure there have been some,” she said. “But we try to deal with them as we can, hoping that we tackle that and if there is, we want to make sure that it’s covered prior to Election Day.”
Sydney Shadrix is a graduate student studying journalism.