BOARD OF REGISTRATIONS AND ELECTIONS, HANCOCK COUNTY: APRIL 7TH, 2016 MEETING

In attendance:

Kathy Ransom (Chair)

Jim Youmans (Vice Chair & Secretary)

Nancy Stephens (Member)

Linda Clayton (Member)

Robert Ingram (Member)
…..
Tiffany Medlock (Elections Supervisor)

Ms. Grant (Board of Elections Attorney)

Update on March 1st Election Day Issues, presented by Supervisor Medlock

Polling locations not opening on time

  • Details in document presented to board members state which specific issues occured with each location.
  • Moving forward, they’ll be conducting more poll worker training.

Elector turned away

  • An elector was in inactive status. A poll manager turned her away and didn’t offer a provisional ballot.
  • Supervisor Medlock: as long as a voter is merely inactive, he/she can still vote. Poll workers will be trained more extensively, going forward.

Member Stephens: for the locations not open on time, what happened? How did we address that?

Supervisor Medlock: We will be informing poll workers more clearly that, if individuals are at the polls (even if at the wrong location), they should be given provisional ballots.

Member Stephens: the polls weren’t open—how could they get the provisional ballots if no one was there? A citizen in particular was told to come back. And that he still couldn’t vote when he came back.

Elections Official: no one was turned away. The doors were open but the machines weren’t up and running. If you left of your own will, that’s your own decision.

Member Stephens: that’s pretty bad

Member Ingram: doors open doesn’t equate to polls being open. Polls should’ve been up and ready by 7 a.m. The voters should have the opportunity to cast their ballots at 7 a.m. We know that there were polls that weren’t open. What we need to do is address that. My question is: whether or not we’re going to still try to use the same, inexperienced poll workers to run these polls in the elections coming up? We have a field of experienced people out there who could run those polls instead.

Attorney Grant: some of the issues were due to poll workers not doing what they should’ve been doing. But, we’ve been talking about including some sort of test or assessment during training to indicate that the poll workers know what they’re doing. Doesn’t have to be a written test—could be a verbal test. I think that would go a long way in ensuring that poll workers understand.

Member Stephens: I remember the 150 foot signs being taped to this building too.

Supervisor Medlock: [muffled] said it was fine.

Member Ingram: If [muffled] said that, they’ve in the past said lies. Because in the past, they’ve written up situations and taken them to the Secretary of State in other situations.

Member Stephens: what about the people we told you [Medlock] ahead of time were in the wrong districts?

Supervisor Medlock: They were moved back to the right districts before the election.

  • Citizen, last name Turner: you told me that I was moved back but I wasn’t.

[argument ensues. Mr. Turner is removed from the meeting.]

Chair Ransom: I was here all day on Election Day. I was very pleased with how our elections administrators handled the issues that came up. There is no such thing as a perfect election. These are some of the things that can happen on Election Day, but we’re not the only county who had issues.

Board will be evaluating Supervisor Medlock and also creating a list of suggestions for her.

Member Stephens: it seems from what I’m hearing that a lot of things were done at the last minute.

Member Youmans: Madam Chair, I object. This is hearsay. Unless you want to name names, I don’t want to listen to hearsay.

Member Stephens: Tiffany said that she didn’t find out the doors didn’t open on the van until Monday. Didn’t you call before Monday to see if the van would be ready?

Supervisor Medlock: yes, I did

Member Stephens: then why didn’t you tell the board members that you needed help moving the equipment at that time?

Supervisor Medlock: with all due respect, [she asked her for help in another situation, and allegedly Member Stephens did not offer to help]

Member Stephens: are we going to have all this corrected, so we don’t have these problems in May?

Supervisor Medlock: we’re working on that now

Member Ingram: we’re talking about the operations of the office and shortcomings and responsibilities. It’s my understanding that we have cut hours in the office. My question is: with all the added responsibilities and work that have been added—how can we justify cutting hours for an office person. [Member Ingram is referring to the recent suggested cuts to Member Clayton’s office hours.]

Supervisor Medlock: we haven’t had a whole lot to do lately. I haven’t had a whole lot for Ms. Clayton to do lately. Now that we have absentee ballot applications coming in, we may need to call her in to have her help us with that.

Chair Ransom: we had already decided to table the discussion of Member Clayton’s employment until our next meeting. I think we should wait until that meeting to discuss that issue.

Key Left Outside A Precinct

Supervisor Medlock: I don’t know what happened, but the poll worker did not show up in time to get the keys from Member Clayton [who was working that precinct location]. The keys to the building were left outside [Member Clayton contributes: somewhere that only the two of us knew where it was]. When investigator Glenn Archie came out and asked her if the building was left secure when she left and she said: well the key was left outside.

Supervisor Medlock: in the future, when poll managers get their keys, they will have to sign a document saying that they will keep their keys on them at all times.

Member Ingram: you said you left the key outside because…?

Member Clayton: I left it there because the poll manager knew it was going to be left there. We had decided before that it would be left there.

Absentee Ballots

Member Clayton: in which instances would you not accept absentee ballots?

Supervisor Medlock: if the signatures don’t match or we don’t have their voter registration on file.

Member Stephens: *asks about submission timelines of absentee ballots*

Attorney Grant: in light of the complexity of this matter, I’d like to take the application and review it and then advise the board on this matter.

Computer Virus

Member Stephens: I got three emails from [Member Ingram’s] computer. And I got the same thing about a year ago and knew it was a virus and deleted it. A number of other individuals got these emails. To include Don and Edwina Bevill and Mr. Turner. And some clicked the link in the email, and the link had said “click here to see more.”

Vice Chair Youmans: just practice safe email.

Member Stephens: I’m just saying that’s what happened and there were some concerns about that being sent out and who it went to.

Don Bevill: some of these people may be getting these emails from me. I got one from Robert and one from Ralph. If you’re in this room and you’re on anybody’s email list, you may get this stuff.

Concerns about Chair Ransom’s Oversight, presented by Member Stephens

Member Stephens: SB 173 is pretty specific that all actions/decisions by the board have to be made by majority vote of the board. This is happening less and less—where the board is getting where they’re not involved in what’s going on. They’re not being notified of what’s happening. I addressed Chair Ransom early on that some actions she was taking should be handled by the board and not by her individually. It got to where it was happening more and more often. Finally, in September, she got Ms. Clayton to make a motion for her to have a little more power. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t know much of anything of what’s going on with the board. Like, with the election, we weren’t notified that there were problems except by rumor and by the Supervisor’s Report today—and this was a March 1st election. I want to see the board able to make more decisions and be more involved—not just the chair doing this.

Makes a motion that the Chair’s duties be restricted except for what’s outlined in the board of elections bylaws. Chair shall not make any decisions except what the board authorizes and will fill the board in on any actions.

Member Clayton seconds the motion.

Motion tabled.

Public Comments

Edith Ingram: how was it possible for some people to get misplaced re: their voting precincts? I have a complaint from two ladies who were unsure and came here and you [Chair Ransom] told them to go to the fire station. When they got there, they had to go back to St. Marks.

Chair Ransom: do you know the names? If someone comes with a concern, bring their names so I can check. If I gave them information, it would have been from the express poll.

Marion Warren: this is a called meeting. The agenda is supposed to be set before you start. So, how can you add stuff in on a called meeting? Second, with regard to signature cards for people, I came and asked about the law on the matter and was met with hostility. I want to know what part that law plays with regard to absentee ballots.

Attorney Grant: I know Mr. Youmans was looking up the law, but if he opines about the law without a law degree, that’s a big no no. That’s practicing law without a license.

Marion Warren: since you are here [Attorney Grant], I’m asking you. If my board will allow me to, I will research it. I serve at the pleasure of the board and not for citizens. If they want me to provide an answer, I will.

Joycelyn Huff: I want to know, because this is a local election that’s coming up, whether or not the public is privy to observe the opening and closing of the polls. I know that in the prior election, we were told that we could not observe the closing, but is there a code that states whether or not the public is allowed to observe the opening and closing the polls.

Chair Ransom: same answer re: practicing law without a license. You’ll have to do some research on that or contact the Secretary of State’s office.

Joycelyn Huff: with this being a local election, the ballot is much longer than with the presidential election. Are we looking at having a lot more poll workers, to handle the expanded turnout?

Supervisor Medlock: yes.

Maxine Evans: I’m concerned about the hours that you all mention that have been cut from Ms. Clayton. Her expertise is excellent and I’m sure that she could be a hand to help Ms. Medlock in her endeavors in that office.

Give me the code that says that people cannot go to the polls and go into the polls to help them. The information has been given out [presumably by the office] that citizens cannot bring individuals with them to the polls.

Attorney Grant: can you provide us with the persons that are giving out that information?

Maxine Evans: it’s coming from Ms. Medlock’s office.

Attorney Grant: we’ll look into it.

Unidentified citizen: Every time something comes up, you say you’ll look into it but won’t verify anything or answer any of our questions.

Vice Chair Youmans: I was able to go “bingo” right to this code section, but I can’t talk about it because that would be my interpretation of GA law.

Lashonna Jackson: if a candidate is running for something and wants to oppose another candidate, who makes the decision about that?

Attorney Grant: I would suggest you contact an attorney and have them give you advice, because there are different ways to bring challenges at different times.

Walter Collins: after everything is said and done, my major concern for voting nationwide is the use of old voting machines, which we still use. They are very prone to hacking. I want some type of assurance from the board that when I cast my vote, my vote won’t be hacked.

Marion Warren: according to the rules, the law is supposed to be written in layman’s terms.

 

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