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Some voters in swing states worry about status of their absentee ballots

Georgia resident Margo Moorer has been voting in U.S. elections for almost 51 years without any problems. So when she got a call Thursday about her absentee ballot being rejected over a signature issue, she was shocked.

“I just kind of got real quiet because I’m trying to think, ‘How did that happen?’” Moorer, 67, said.

Margo Moorer said she’s never had an issue with voting and was shocked to learn that her ballot had been rejected.Courtesy Margo Moorer

Moorer said she typically votes in person, but opted for an absentee ballot this year and has had to troubleshoot an issue. Her ballot is in the “curing” process — which happens when there’s a missing signature, a signature that doesn’t match what’s on file or another problem.

She’s among a number of voters in battleground states Georgia and Pennsylvania who said they are worried their votes won’t be counted.

“It’s time for us to change,” Moorer said.

“That’s why it’s important that these votes have been cured, that they are counted. And everybody knows somebody somewhere that’s out there actually working in counting and doing what’s right,” she said.

Georgia’s deadline to cure ballots was 5 p.m. Friday.

Joyce Lanterman, who lives in Georgia’s DeKalb County, said she dropped off her absentee ballot in October and only learned that her ballot’s status was “challenged” for an invalid signature when she checked online November 4.

“Nobody called me,” Lanterman, 48, said. “I keep seeing indications that I was supposed to get a call or something, but I never got any kind of notification. I would not have known if I had not gone to check.”

She said the Georgia Democratic Voter Protection hotline helped her get a ballot cure affidavit form. Despite reassurance from the group that her vote would be counted, she’s still wary.

“I basically just have to trust the system,” she said. “And maybe you can understand why I’m a little reluctant to trust the system at this point.”

DeKalb County, Georgia, voter Rachael Holtzberg, 38, said she mailed her ballot a month ago from the United Kingdom, but that it’s been “stuck” in the U.S. Postal Service system.

“And from everything I can see online, mine is sitting at a sorting center and has been in the sorting center in the Atlanta area for over two weeks now. And I feel a bit powerless,” Holtzberg said.

DeKalb County is continuing to count about 48,000 absentee ballots.

Holtzberg said she is tracking her ballot with DeKalb County by phone, the USPS website and Georgia’s Secretary of State voter page.

“I’ve been watching the election for four days now … and it’s getting really close in Georgia. And no matter the outcome, I want my vote to be counted,” she said.

Angelina Ortoleva, a Pennsylvania voter, says she mailed out an absentee ballot and is worried it hasn’t been received after checking the Pennsylvania Voter Services website.Courtesy Angelina Ortoleva

In Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Angelina Ortoleva said she can’t track down the absentee ballot she mailed in months ago because she can’t find any information about it through the Pennsylvania Voter Services website. Allegheny County is also resuming the count and anticipating more overseas ballots.

“It says we are unable to match your information with our records,” Ortoleva, 24, said.

Ortoleva opted to vote by mail because of her work schedule as a nurse and traveling across the state to assist during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I do believe that my vote will not be counted. And that is scary to me, especially since Pennsylvania is still in the gray, still counting. And I could have been one of those votes. I could have helped put us over the edge one way or the other,” she said.

Caitlin Fichtel and Brenda Breslauer contributed.

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