2015 Georgia Code
Title 21 - ELECTIONS
Chapter 2 - ELECTIONS AND PRIMARIES GENERALLY
Article 11 - PREPARATION FOR AND CONDUCT OF PRIMARIES AND ELECTIONS
Part 2 - PRECINCTS USING PAPER BALLOTS
§ 21-2-437 - Procedure as to count and return of votes generally; void ballots
(a) After the polls close and as soon as all the ballots have been properly accounted for and those outside the ballot box as well as the voter's certificates, numbered list of voters, and electors list have been sealed, the poll officers shall open the ballot box and take therefrom all ballots contained therein. In primaries in which more than one ballot box is used, any ballots or stubs belonging to another party holding its primary in the same polling place shall be returned to the ballot box for the party for which they were issued. In primaries, separate tally and return sheets shall be prepared for each party, and separate poll officers shall be designated by the chief manager to count and tally each party's ballot. Where the same ballot box is being used by one or more parties, the ballots and stubs shall first be divided by party before being tallied and counted. The ballots shall then be counted one by one and a record made of the total number. Then the chief manager, together with such assistant managers and other poll officers as the chief manager may designate, under the scrutiny of one of the assistant managers and in the presence of the other poll officers, shall read aloud the names of the candidates marked or written upon each ballot, together with the office for which the person named is a candidate, and the answers contained on the ballots to the questions submitted, if any; and the other assistant manager and clerks shall carefully enter each vote as read and keep account of the same in ink on a sufficient number of tally papers, all of which shall be made at the same time. All ballots, after being removed from the box, shall be kept within the unobstructed view of all persons in the voting room until replaced in the box. No person, while handling the ballots, shall have in his or her hand any pencil, pen, stamp, or other means of marking or spoiling any ballot. The poll officers shall immediately proceed to canvass and compute the votes cast and shall not adjourn or postpone the canvass or computation until it shall have been fully completed, except that, in the discretion of the superintendent, the poll officers may stop the counting after all contested races and questions are counted, provided that the results of these contested races and questions are posted for the information of the public outside the polling place and the ballots are returned to the ballot box and deposited with the superintendent until counting is resumed on the following day.
(b) When the vote cast for the different persons named upon the ballots and upon the questions, if any, appearing thereon, shall have been fully recorded in the tally papers and counted, the poll officers shall duly certify to the number of votes cast for each person and question and shall prepare in ink a sufficient number of general returns. The general returns shall show, in addition to the entries made thereon as aforesaid, the total number of ballots received from the superintendent, the number of ballots cast, the number of ballots declared void, the number of ballots spoiled and canceled, and any blank ballots cast, as well as the votes cast for each candidate. At elections, the number of votes cast for each candidate by each political party or body of which such candidate is a nominee shall be separately stated.
(c) In returning any votes cast for any person whose name is not printed on the ballot, the poll officers shall record any such names exactly as they were written on the ballot.
(d) Any ballot marked so as to identify the voter shall be void and not counted, except a ballot cast by a challenged elector whose name appears on the electors list; such challenged vote shall be counted as prima facie valid but may be voided in the event of an election contest. Any ballot marked by anything but pen or pencil shall be void and not counted. Any erasure, mutilation, or defect in the vote for any candidate shall render void the vote for such candidate but shall not invalidate the votes cast on the remainder of the ballot, if otherwise properly marked. If an elector shall mark his or her ballot for more persons for any nomination or office than there are candidates to be voted for such nomination or office, or if, for any reason, it may be impossible to determine his or her choice for any nomination or office, his or her ballot shall not be counted for such nomination or office; but the ballot shall be counted for all nominations or offices for which it is properly marked. Unmarked ballots or ballots improperly or defectively marked so that the whole ballot is void shall be set aside and shall be preserved with other ballots. In primaries, votes cast for candidates who have died, withdrawn, or been disqualified shall be void and shall not be counted. In elections, votes for candidates who have died or been disqualified shall be void and shall not be counted.
(e) Any ballot marked by any other mark than a cross (X) or check ([checkmark]) mark in the spaces provided for that purpose shall be void and not counted; provided, however, that no vote recorded thereon shall be declared void because a cross (X) or check ([checkmark]) mark thereon is irregular in form. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter to the contrary, if the voter has marked his or her ballot in such a manner that he or she has indicated clearly and without question the candidate which he or she desires to receive his or her vote, his or her ballot shall be counted and such candidate shall receive his vote.
(f) At elections, a ballot indicating a write-in vote for any person whose name is not printed on the ballot and who properly gave notice of intent to run as a write-in candidate pursuant to Code Section 21-2-133 shall be counted as a vote for such person, if written in the proper space or spaces provided for that purpose, whether or not a cross (X) or check ([checkmark]) mark is placed before the name of such person.
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