BOARD OF REGISTRATIONS AND ELECTIONS, FULTON COUNTY: MAY 12TH, 2016 MEETING

In attendance:

Mary Carole Cooney (Chairperson)

Stan Matarazzo (Vice Chair, R)

David Burge (R)

Rukiya Thomas (D)

Luther Beck (D)

…..

Richard Barron (Director of Registration and Elections)

Shirley Arnold (Board Secretary)

Ralph Jones (Registration Manager)

Elizabeth Poythress (President, League of Women Voters of Georgia)

John Maddox (citizen)

Communications & Public Response

John Maddox (citizen): just wanted to remind the board that he hopes it doesn’t happen again that his vote doesn’t count, as what happened with the 2012 sheriff’s race.

Chairwoman Cooney: Why didn’t your vote get counted?

Maddox: I had punched for Richard Lankford on the machine. And then his name didn’t come up on my ballot. The lady at the desk checked, punched the “Richard Lankford” button again, and the button wouldn’t work.

Removal of Names from Voter List due to Felony Convictions

390 names removed.

Monthly Operations Report: April, presented by Director Barron

Number of voter registration applications received in April: 19,704. Registrations continued to come in at a pretty high clip. Compared to 2012, 8,000 more. Every month this year, so far, has been much higher than in 2012.

The New Georgia Project has 4,020 new voter registration applications. From what I understand, the quality of those has been much better than in 2014.

Voter education team has been getting out into the field quite a bit. Have distributed early voting flyers all around the county.

We are ahead of the presidential primary, with regard to early voting so far. 5,115 people have voted so far, county-wide.

The state, with regard to the precinct cards—they are going to meet with the mail design analyst. However, their position is that they feel as if the USPS, because there are [diverse problems occurring, not just one recurring issue] —e.g. cards going to polling places instead of home addresses (USPS’s fault, in the state’s opinion), the delay in delivery by up to three months, or the cards being returned—they feel these things happening are USPS’s fault. They’re going to meet with the analyst, but unless the USPS can guarantee that changing the appearance of the precinct cards will solve the problem, the state does not see the point in changing it.

I [Director Barron] think from that meeting that there’s a problem with the cards. And, until I told him, he didn’t realize that Dekalb county had also had issues. He [a representative from the Secretary of State’s office] didn’t think there were any other precinct card mailing issues, state-wide [aside from in Fulton County].

Chairwoman Cooney: if the design expert says the design is a problem, if I can’t raise it any other way, I’d like to raise it at the next State Election Board meeting.

Director Barron: we’ve also figured out what happened with Fickett and Bunche.

Manager Jones: we were looking at the timeline re: the precinct change from Fickett Elementary to Bunche Middle School (story). It’s possible that a person voting in major elections would be going to Fickett Elementary school still but that in off-season times, they’re going to Bunche. To a voter [usually voting at Fickett], if you voted in the major elections, you probably didn’t notice at the time that your precinct had changed to Bunche.

Update on Financial Oversight, presented by Vice Chair Matarazzo

Vice Chair Matarazzo is working on redesigning the report.

Director Barron: We came in under budget after the presidential primary, which should give us some leeway in the fall.

We know from some voters that it’s taken up to three months to get those precinct cards. And in some instances, the husband got the card but the wife didn’t [both living in the same home] and vice versa.

Have been doing interviews and spots on the radio, on channels like V103. Georgia Tech has reached out to us, after we went a message to them, to do an educational campaign for the students in the fall. So, we’ll be working on that shortly.

[County representative, speaking to Chairperson Cooney]: This has been a very bold plan to expand early voting to the level that we have, under your leadership. It’s going to take more marketing than what free publicity will get us. In addition, the department has invested in radio and social media ads. Just to get the word out to the volume you’re looking for, that’s an additional resource. In my department, we’ve tried to supplement our resources. We’ve worked with an external graphic designer to develop a new look & feel for early voting flyers for the fall. We’ve also worked with the department re: responding to media issues on matters of controversy, e.g. the precinct card issues, ballot issues, etc. We’re there to help you try to respond appropriately as things come up. We’ve also sent an email newsletter about early voting to 20,000 people in their community email listserv. For the May 24th election, we’ll be trying out a partnership with NextDoor, a social media platform geared to neighborhoods–a neighborhood-level networking site. Our goal is to have this live so that if we have issues on election day, we’ll be able to post those using the NextDoor platform. Social media will continue to be used throughout the election day process.

Member Thomas: asks about accountability, re: the proposed social media/media plan. Whether it’s possible to determine whether spending more marketing money to get the word out would have a measurable effect on ad reach, etc.

Member Thomas [to Director Barron]: the office staff will be evaluating what worked and didn’t work on Election Day, per the plan you’ve provided. One of the ways the plan indicates that it’ll be evaluating Election Day functioning is asking poll workers/managers: “did you provide proper customer service,” etc. How do we plan to find more objective measures of how things worked on Election Day?

Director Barron: well, we also get feedback from voters from calls, etc. that come in on Election Day.

Member Thomas: suggests that the board implement a tool like Survey Monkey on the website, to solicit voter feedback.

Crystal (citizen & graphic designer who has created some marketing materials for the board): suggests physical comment cards at polling places on Election Day.

Member Thomas: that’s a great idea. Or we just need signs directing people to the comment cards we already have at the precincts.

Precinct Updates (to be put into place before November)

There’s a new polling place opened at the Center for Civil & Human Rights.

Director Barron: and voters will be able to park for free, with someone out there during the day, making sure they know where to go.

Milton Center: move to Alpharetta Library. Too many scheduling conflicts at the original location.

Moving Venetian to a nearby location.

9G (senior citizen facility) can no longer accommodate us, so they need to move it.

Member Thomas: how soon do we plan to communicate these precinct moves?

Manager Jones: these changes aren’t going into effect until August, so we’ll be sending out notices sometime after the July runoff.

Illegible Voter Registration Applications

Update from the attorney on these two questions, posed at last month’s meetings:

1) Do we have to accept voter registration applications if they’re not legible or readable: yes.

2) Can we just give them back to the group that dropped them off, if they’re not readable: no.

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