The AJC has been using Democrats to help explain Brad Raffensperger’s primary win – mainly that there were a large number of Democrats who “crossed over” and voted in the Republican primary. But, in Gwinnett County at least, the numbers don’t back that up.
First, a quick refresher on how crossover votes could be determined. If you understand phrases like “Hard Republicans” and “Soft Democrats,” you can save some time and skip ahead to The Bottom Line below.
How can you determine when a voter “crosses over”?
Georgia uses a secret ballot, which means they have gone to great lengths to keep anyone from being able to find out which candidates you voted for. Georgia also does not register voters by party affiliation, so when a GA voter says they are a “Registered Republican”, they don’t know what they are talking about. But the state keeps the voter rolls and history available for anyone to view. Most voters would be shocked to find out that anyone can see their name, address, the date that they registered to vote, their birth year, their race, and their gender. (Georgia only uses two genders – I know, it’s a cruel world). These data are contained in the Voter Lists, which can be ordered by clicking HERE.
They also record each time anyone votes, and these history files are free to download from this website. The files have the VoterID, the date of the vote and, if a primary election, the type of ballot pulled. It is from the type of ballot that the voter selects that we can infer whether the voter is a Democrat or Republican. Since 2014, there have been about nine primary elections, depending on your voter precinct. A voter who asks for a Democrat primary ballot nine times out of nine would be considered a ‘hard’ Democrat and a frequent voter. A voter who only voted in three of those primaries, but voted ‘D’ every time, would still be a pretty reliable Democrat but not a reliable voter.
A large number of voters actually switch from ‘D’ to ‘R’ to NonPartisan and back again over the years. These are considered independent and are a strong target for candidates from both parties.
So, what does the Gwinnett voting history for the 2022 primary show?
First, the 2022 primary was not the perfect election that you may have heard, so numbers have been moving around daily. I know for a fact that at the precinct where I was an assistant poll manager we put 526 ballots through the scanners. We even hand-counted them after the poll closed. But this website from the Secretary of State’s office shows only 344 ballots cast on election day. If you pull up the detail sheets, you find that there were 499 votes for governor (181 Republican ballots and 318 Democrat) when you count both parties. None of the numbers match, but I guess that’s close enough for election results in Georgia. For this precinct at least, a hand recount would be very interesting…
Pulling the voter history files from the SOS websites, we discover that they recorded 134,506 votes in Gwinnett County. This includes ballots cast on election day, early voting, and absentee votes.
Step 1 – Let’s define a Hard Voter as someone who voted in primaries or runoffs three or more times since 2014 but before the 2022 primary. We don’t count general elections because we can’t determine a party. Three votes in non-general elections is a fairly active voter, although many people have voted in 8 primary/runoff elections in the same period. That narrows our pool to just over 74,000 Gwinnett voters.
Step 2 – Let’s now define a Hard Democrat as someone who pulled a Democrat ballot at least 65% of the time before 2022. This is a pretty low standard because it means that some “Three Ballot” folks from Step 1 could have voted D twice and R once. But we are being generous with the Hard Democrat definition to make a point. The potential number of crossover voters has now dropped to about 31,500.
Step 3 – We can now count and determine how many of our Hard Democrats (identified in Step 2) pulled a Republican ballot in 2022.
The Bottom Line
The number of Democrat voters (voting Democrat 65% or more of the time) who voted in at least three primaries since (and including) 2014 but pulled a Republican ballot In Gwinnett’s 2022 Primary election was 1,181. That comes out to about 0.88%. Raise the bar just a little, defining a Democrat voter as someone who pulled a Democrat ballot at least 75% of the time, and you discover that only 0.63% (851 out of 134,506) voted an ‘R’ ballot in 2022. Consider the fact that Brad Raffensperger is listed as having received almost 13,000 more votes than Jody Hice in Gwinnett, and you realize that, in this county at least, crossover voting was not a factor. In spite of what the AJC claims.
CAVEATS: Many people just take the AJC as fact. At least I am trying to validate their reporting, so give me a break. Plus I am only working with what I can pull down from the Secretary of State website, and based on what I have seen, I suspect the data. Also, I probably made some errors in my math, as I am but a humble blogger with a calculator. If you have corrections, please pass them on, and I will adjust this post. Thank you!