Fulton County officials got caught by surprise when a data glitch caused some voters to cast the wrong ballot in Tuesday’s primary. Turns out, Georgia officials and state Democrats knew of the problem since February but no one told the county until Election Day. According to emails shared with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, officials with the Democratic Party of Georgia emailed the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office on Feb. 17 after noticing voter maps for House District 59 and House District 60 — seats held by two Democrats on the south end of Atlanta that stretch into East Point — were coded incorrectly, putting some voters in the wrong district. That means some voters may have received the wrong ballots and voted in the wrong race. A state staffer at the time replied in an attempt to confirm which county the districts were in. No changes were made, and no one contacted Fulton County. Georgia Democrats again reached out to the state about the problem last week after noticing it had not been corrected. But state officials did not say anything to Fulton officials until Tuesday afternoon, after voting was well underway.
According to separate emails obtained by the AJC under an open records request, state Elections Director Chris Harvey on Tuesday told Fulton County Elections Director Rick Barron he had just found out about the problem and acknowledged that a staffer “simply forgot to forward you the information when she got it last Wednesday.”
“I agree,” Harvey added, “that we should have gotten the information to you as soon as we got it.” It is unclear whether Harvey knew that the office had first been contacted about the problem in February.
The miscommunication has added to the frustration of local officials, who on Wednesday said they believe fewer than 40 voters may have cast the wrong ballots. Officials were also able to get the correct ballots to an additional 53 voters before the polls closed Tuesday evening, preventing any further problems. The issue was isolated to one polling location and precinct in East Point.