HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The Hiawassee polling precinct was within minutes of closing on Nov. 6, when Sunni Wolfe rushed in to cast a ballot on election night. Wolfe, who spoke on-record with FYN upon exiting the polls, was provided a provisional ballot by election officials due to the fact that Wolfe could not produce photo identification, a requirement in Georgia elections. Wolfe explained to FYN that he had relocated to Towns County from the metro Atlanta area five months prior, and is currently homeless, residing in an area campground. When asked what motivated Wolfe to turn out at the Towns County polls in the nick of time, Wolfe stated that he took an “opportunity” to vote because he had hoped to make his voice heard.
That opportunity resulted in not only a futile vote, due to Wolfe being registered out-of-precinct in Fulton County, but in Wolfe’s arrest shortly after leaving the local polls. Sunni Wolfe was charged with Driving while License Suspended/Revoked after the vehicle he had driven to the voting precinct was reported missing by Wolfe’s girlfriend, an employee working a shift at a Hiawassee restaurant.
According to the arrest report obtained by FYN, Hiawassee Police Department responded to the complaint at 8:10 pm, with law enforcement officers still on scene as Wolfe returned the vehicle to the location in which had been reported missing. Upon explaining to officers that he had “taken the car to go vote” and providing a provisional voter receipt to law enforcement, Wolfe purportedly admitted to officers that his license was suspended, was subsequently placed under arrest, and transported to the Towns County Detention Center. FYN contacted Hiawassee Police Department and learned that Wolfe, too, had conveyed to officers that he was homeless.
FYN briefly corresponded online with Wolfe on Nov. 13, with Wolfe stating that although he was unaware that his vote did not count, “the right to vote was clearly, in fact, in my favor.”
During the 2018 midterm election, a total of 21,190 provisional ballots were cast in Georgia. That number is up from 12,151 provisionals cast in the 2014 midterm. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams filed a federal lawsuit on Sunday, asking that election authorities count certain ballots which would otherwise be rejected for “arbitrary reasons.” Of the nine provisional ballots cast in Towns County, all nine were disqualified due to out-of-precinct voting.
In response to a lawsuit filed by Common Cause Georgia on Nov. 5, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ruled that Georgia cannot certify the election results before Friday at 5 p.m. which falls four days before the Nov. 20 deadline set forth by state law. Current returns show Republican Brian Kemp leading with a margin that would make him Georgia’s governor-elect. Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams, however, insists that enough outstanding votes remain to be counted, which she claims could push Kemp below the majority threshold, forcing a Dec. 4 runoff.
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HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Election day has come and gone, and the deadline for provisional voters to prove eligibility in the general midterm arrived today. Towns County Board of Elections reported that of the nine provisional ballots cast in Towns County, all were submitted out-of-precinct, meaning that nine local votes will not increase the state sum.
FYN was at the Hiawassee election precinct when one such provisional voter arrived at the polls, minutes before the closing bell on election night. After exiting the ballot box shortly after 8 pm, a man who identified himself as Sunni Wolfe agreed to speak on-record with FYN’s reporter. Wolfe, who could not produce identification for poll workers, claimed to be homeless and living at an undisclosed campground in the Towns County area. Wolfe explained that he left the metro Atlanta area five months prior, and did not have a local address to register. Wolfe was provided a provisional ballot by election officials, and when asked by FYN, voiced no issue with the process. A record request obtained on Nov. 8 revealed that Wolfe was registered in Fulton County, however, resulting in a futile Towns County vote.
Election official Kathy Norton imparted that additional out-of-precinct voters arrived at the Young Harris polling location on election day, including a student attending Young Harris College who claimed that he had received an email stating that his vote would count regardless of a lack of local registration. According to Norton, each voter was provided with a provisional ballot.
“Anyone can vote, but every vote doesn’t always counts,” Towns County Board of Elections Director Tonya Nichols explained, “Georgia law requires voters to cast their ballots in the county in which they are registered.”