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Newton officials deny Trump campaign claim dead voter's name used illegally
Late Covington resident's voter registration canceled in 2006; widow regularly votes under a similar name
Newton County election board
The Newton County Board of Elections and Registrations meets Monday, Nov. 9, to certify the results of the Nov. 3 General and Special Election. - photo by Tom Spigolon

COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County elections officials today denied President Donald Trump’s campaign’s claim that “someone” used a dead Covington voter’s information to cast an illegal ballot in the Nov. 3 election.

The registration of the late voter, James E. Blalock Jr., was canceled in the same year he died in 2006, county election officials said.

His widow is legally registered under the name Mrs. James E. Blalock Jr. rather than her own first name and has voted regularly using that name since 1992, according to records from the county election office.

Trump’s re-election campaign alleged on Wednesday, Nov. 11, that Blalock was among four dead Georgians whose names were illegally used by “someone” to cast ballots in the General Election.

The news release identified Mr. Blalock as a Covington resident and included an obituary for the retired postal worker and World War II veteran, who died at age 81 in January 2006.

The release was part of the campaign’s effort to show that voter fraud was present in Georgia before the Nov. 3 election in which Trump lost to Joe Biden by 14,000 votes out of 5 million cast in Georgia, campaign officials said.

“These victims of voter fraud deserve justice, and legal voters should be able to have confidence that their votes are not rendered meaningless due to illegally cast votes,” the release stated.

But Newton County elections director Angela Mantle said Blalock’s widow has regularly voted legally under the name Mrs. James E. Blalock Jr. since 1992 — most recently using an absentee ballot in the Nov. 3 election.

Mantle said her office’s records show Mr. Blalock’s name was removed from the voter database three months after he died in 2006. 

Elections board Chairman Phil Johnson said Mrs. Blalock was not voting in her late husband’s place “but in her own place.”

“In times past widows often continued to refer to themselves as ‘Mrs.’ instead of using their first name,” Johnson said.

He said the Secretary of State uses a number of databases to update and maintain their own information on registered voters, such as driver’s license records, post office records, death records and others.

Johnson said the Secretary of State’s office accepts Mrs. Blalock’s ballot with the signature of “Mrs. James E. Blalock Jr.” The signature is in the system and is unique and totally distinct from her late husband’s signature, he said. 

She also is required to produce other identifying information, such as her driver’s license number, when she casts a ballot, Johnson said. 

“I would think that any person using this as an example of voter fraud or any media publishing it as such would bear some responsibility to check those records before making accusations which call into question the validity of our electoral process,” Johnson said. 

“Such false accusations linger long after the facts are discovered and the story debunked,” he said.

The Secretary of State’s office said it was investigating the claims. A spokesman referred questions to the Newton County elections office.

The Trump campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.