Nonpartisan elections moved a step closer Tuesday when the Georgia House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved them for several local offices. The House lawmakers approved four bills that included nonpartisan elections for the new consolidated Macon-Bibb County governments, the Bibb County Board of Elections and the Macon Water Authority. They also included the coroner, Probate Judge, Civil Court Judge and State Court Solicitor. The legislation now heads to Gov. Nathan Deal for consideration. If he signs them into law, they’ll head to the U.S. Department of Justice, which will determine if the law complies with the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Two weeks ago, the Senate approved nonpartisan elections for those positions. In both chambers, Republicans largely supported the measures while Democrats opposed them.
Articles about voting issues in Georgia.
Fulton County’s interim elections director denies her staff tampered with polling records by adding dozens of voters’ names to tally sheets last year. It wasn’t fraud, Sharon Mitchell says, but correcting mistakes. But Secretary of State Brian Kemp maintains the county’s actions were likely illegal. Not only did the department’s missteps cause more people to use paper ballots than the entire rest of the state combined, Kemp says the county also mishandled those ballots in the aftermath and may have counted some votes twice. Documents unveiled by a state investigator last week showed someone used a red pen to add more than 50 names to the list of people using paper ballots at one precinct and five names to the list from another precinct.
Someone altered Fulton County voter records after last year’s presidential election, using a red pen to add names to tally sheets of voters using paper ballots and marking that their votes all counted. Who is responsible remains a mystery, but it happened after managers from at least two precincts had signed off on the documents and submitted them to the main county elections office. “I know for certain that these additional names were added after,” Rosalyn Murphy, who served in November as an assistant poll manager at Church of the Redeemer in Sandy Springs, told the State Election Board during a hearing Thursday focusing on the performance of the county’s elections office. “That doesn’t even look like our handwriting.”
Lackluster leadership and internal disarray caused Fulton County to mismanage last year’s presidential election, according to a report obtained exclusively by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The county’s Registration and Elections Office kept the document hidden from the public for the past month in what may have been a violation of the state’s open records law. After the elections board’s private attorneys refused to release it, Commission Chairman John Eaves obtained it and gave it to the AJC.
Reports of serious errors occurring Election Day in electronic-voting machines in Fulton County demonstrate the urgency of passing legislation to verify the accuracy of our voting systems. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp called Fulton County’s election administration a “debacle,” noting that this is yet another example of “the constant and systemic nature of election failures in Fulton County.” During this summer’s primary elections, several Fulton County precincts also reported a substantial disparity between registered voters and ballots. Voting-machine errors resulted in voter turnouts that exceeded 100 percent in some precincts. This figure is astronomical when compared to the statewide turnout that averaged between 10 and 20 percent. But one precinct had an impossible turnout of 23,300 percent. These kinds of problems with voting machines are precisely why I introduced H.R. 6246, the Verifying Official Totals for Elections (VOTE) Act. Not only does it improve our confidence in election data through transparency and accountability, more importantly, it assures accuracy.
Fulton County has been sanctioned by state regulators for twice mailing 226 people incorrect absentee ballots during the 2010 gubernatorial election. The State Election Board also slapped the county for hand-delivering an absentee ballot to a man after he complained he didn’t get one, which is against state elections rules.
Fulton County made an array of errors in the July 31 primary, putting voters in the wrong elections, declaring results to the state more than an hour late and producing data that doesn’t add up. Now state elections officials want to know whether Fulton performed poorly enough to throw off some of the final results, a spokesman for Secretary of State Brian Kemp confirmed. The state has launched an investigation into the county’s elections procedures. ”I wouldn’t restrict it or limit it to any race at this point,” Kemp spokesman Jared Thomas said, declining to elaborate.
Georgia: Secretary of State criticizes Fulton County over vote counting progress, communication | The Republic
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said he is concerned about “numerous and substantial issues” surrounding Tuesday’s primary election in Fulton County and more concerned with a lack of communication with local voting officials. WSB-TV reports that Fulton County was scheduled to certify the results of Tuesday’s primary by noon Saturday. That deadline came and went. Now county election officials plan to meet Monday night.
Candidates in this year’s Primary Election were left waiting for results from 1,500 mail-in absentee ballots, well in to the early morning hours on Wednesday. Election officials blame a computer communication error for the delay. Absentee by mail ballots come from all over the county from folks who knew ahead of time they could not vote in person in the 2012 primary. To count them, they must be imported in to a computer using an optimal scan unit. That computer is supposed to “talk” to another computer that then totals the results. When it became clear the machines weren’t communicating with each other, officials were forced to re-scan all 1,500 ballots.
Floyd County Elections Board Chairman Pete McDonald said the malfunctioning touch screen voting machine at Alto Park has been sent to the manufacturer in an attempt to access the 85 uncounted votes it holds. McDonald said Merle King at the Georgia Elections Center at Kennesaw State University reported that attempts to retrieve the election data from the memory card or from the archive memory were unsuccessful.