The Richmond County Board of Elections voted Thursday to reject all but one provisional ballot cast Tuesday by 53 Paine College students who thought they had registered recently on campus but were not on the voter rolls.
Board members expressed deep concern about the incident and likely will continue investigating, although in some cases it appears the forms might have been filled out incorrectly so that students ended up being registered to a home county because they listed their residence as somewhere else in Georgia.
"I think that did happen in many instances," board Executive Director Lynn Bailey said. "That application would have never even come into Richmond County in the first place."
Paine College was much more active about registering this year than other schools and there were a lot of Paine College applications that did come in, she said.
Still, the topic and the possibility of further investigation is likely to come up at the board's next regularly scheduled meeting Monday, Democratic appointee Mtesa P. Cottemond said.
In a special called meeting, the board looked at 96 provisional ballots and accepted seven that were inadvertently left off the rolls, mistakenly registered to another county or in the wrong precinct accidentally.
The provisional ballot allows voters to cast a ballot when, through no fault of their own, the voters are deemed ineligible but later found to be registered.
The one Paine College provisional ballot accepted was registered but in a different precinct.
"I'm not going to speculate there was some kind of deliberate attempt to keep people from registering to vote or anything like that," Mrs. Bailey said.
"I really don't think that was the case. We won't know, and may never know, but we can pursue it and try to get some more answers."
Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.