BOARD OF REGISTRATIONS AND ELECTIONS, HANCOCK COUNTY: MAY 27TH, 2016 MEETING

In attendance:

Kathy Ransom (Chair)

Jim Youmans (Vice Chair, Secretary, R)

Linda Clayton (Member, D)

Robert Ingram (Member, D)

…..

Tiffany Medlock (Elections Supervisor)

Work Session

Budget

Member Clayton: can the board provide a specific breakdown of how much each individual (poll workers, staffers, etc.) was paid by the board of elections?

Chair Ransom: is that information usually provided to the public, without a Freedom of Information Act compelling the information production?

Member Clayton: yes.

Election Certification

Member Ingram: Chair Ransom told the board that we needed to postpone our regular (mid-month) meeting to after Election Day because a new dome would be flown in and placed on the courthouse during our regular meeting. Chair Ransom gave intentional, false information to the board about a scheduling conflict and needs to apologize to the board.

Supervisor Medlock: people have until today to submit their provisional ballots. The technician isn’t coming until 1:30pm today, to certify the election.

Vice Chair Youmans: we could enact a one-time motion to allow the May 24th election to be certified by Supervisor Medlock.

Chair Ransom: we could meet this afternoon instead, to certify the election at that time.

Member Ingram: I have absolutely no plans to vote to certify this election.

Member Clayton: I know that on Election Day, many board members were here, whereas Member Ingram and I were out, dealing with poll issues as they arose. In an email after Election Day, we were asked if we witnessed anything problematic at the polls. There were a lot of activities going on out there that would fit that bill. The board is incapable of running an election that is fair to all candidates.

At 9:12am, I asked the election supervisor and the registrar if they needed anything to be going to the different polling sites. They stated no. When I arrived at the Mayfield Center, there were two individuals who had already been turned away from voting, who had been voting there all their lives. The poll workers did not offer them provisional ballots. When I was assisting these voters in obtaining provisional ballots, I noticed that the provisional ballots were not sealed. I also noticed that the site had no change of address forms on hand. At the skating rink, there were lots of voters being turned around for not being on the list. Some didn’t receive precinct cards; I know I didn’t. They had no idea where they should go. At 11:39, when I got to Second Darien, they were saying that everything was running smoothly there. But after that, I went to Bulah, at 11:54—there were major problems there. There were provisional ballots left in the provisional bag, from the presidential preference election. With two voters who are on the voter registration list, and with their ballots being in that bag, they were denied the opportunity to vote, because their vote didn’t count. I have those two voters’ names. At another location, 97 people had been shown to vote on the machines and they could only account for 96 on their list of voters. At Warren Chapel, there was no lock on the provisional ballots bag. The poll workers told me that they called and reported this and Supervisor Medlock told them to just use it anyway. At High Regard, there were no problems other than a shortage of materials. At 5pm here at this center, Kenyatti Wade (a voter from this county) came to this office to check his change of address. Our system has him recorded in Greene County, so we informed him of this and he left to go vote there. As he was walking out the door, he was handcuffed and taken off the premises. It was also brought to my attention that the sheriff’s wife staff members were working as poll workers. I don’t plan on certifying this election, with all these problems.

[Supervisor Medlock: walks back into the room]

Chair Ransom: she has a whole list of things she saw, when visiting other poll locations. Member Clayton, do you mind repeating [what you just said]?

Member Clayton: were all provisional ballots counted?

Supervisor Medlock: There were some counted and there were some that weren’t registered at the time, so they weren’t counted.

Member Clayton: Were there some PPP provisional ballots left in the bags?

Supervisor Medlock: No.

Member Clayton: I have proof that we had two PPP ballots in the provisional bag, at Warren Chapel.

Member Ingram: did the persona there at Second Bulah turn in two provisional ballots?

Supervisor Medlock: yes.

Member Ingram: They weren’t from the PPP?

Supervisor Medlock: no.

Member Clayton: [what about the location that counted 97 votes but only 96 voters?]

Supervisor Medlock: a gentlemen came in and asked for a Republican ballot. He was given a ballot and then said there were no individuals on the Republican ballot, for him to vote for. The poll worker said that there was a lot going on that day and that they then issued the voter a new card.

Member Ingram: That [original, Republican] ballot was not counted, then?

Supervisor Medlock: a poll worker checked the machine said that he had not cast his ballot yet. So a new card was issued for him.

Member Clayton: So he voted two times?

Supervisor Medlock: Yes.

Member Clayton: [accuses Supervisor Medlock of negligence]

[Supervisor Medlock leaves the room.]

Chair Ransom: can we take a brief recess?

Members Ingram and Clayton: no.

Member: I do consider that an act of insubordination, to walk out of a meeting when a board member is attempting to ask a question.

Vice Chair Youmans: reads OCGA section, which says that if an accusation of fraudulent or erroneous election results has been lodged, the board still needs to certify the election and then take it up with the Attorney General. This certification only has to do with the number of votes cast, which cannot possibly exceed the number of electors registered in a given precinct. That’s the only preclusion that can be made, to stop the certification of the election. If there are accusations of fraud, we then need to come up with a preliminary charge sheet to pass on to the Attorney General.

[Supervisor Medlock returns, with a tablet.]

Member Ingram: my concern has been, for some time, that I’m still not satisfied because our request was never fulfilled with the deal with the GEM server being compromised. [Says something about district 3/district 4 voter confusion/voter being turned away. Supervisor Medlock says that’s only happened with one voter.]

I’m not satisfied and I will not be satisfied until an outside source has thoroughly checked our system and makes sure our server has not been compromised. I’m not going to vote to certify this election, based on my concerns about machinery. There are an abundance of other things out there [that might lead him to refuse to certify the election]. But the machinery is my primary concern.

Vice Chair Youmans: [reiterates his earlier point.] I think that we have fulfilled and done probably the best election in 50 years. If there are those who don’t agree, they can give their subjective opinions in a document submitted to me.

Member Clayton: we have no final numbers on the elections, anyway.

Supervisor Medlock: right, because the technician is coming at 1:30pm to finish those numbers.

Member Ingram: if there is a suspicion (and there is one on my part), and if we are seeking the truth, we should not mind the Justice Department, an independent agency, looking into this. Let’s clear the air [and have the DOJ come in]. If there’s nothing to it, then there’s nothing to it.

Vice Chair Youmans: the only way I’d be willing to take an action on this is if I’m presented with a list of names, dates, times. I also need you to get a witness sheet going. Come up with a charge sheet on each charge: name, date, person, time, place…and not just read off your own personal list of grievances during the board meeting.

Member Clayton: starts to speak to address Vice Chair Youmans, while he is speaking.

Chair Ransom: Ms. Clayton, you are out of order.

Member Clayton: Ms. Ransom, you are out of order.

Regular Meeting

Conference Call Request by Board Member Stephens June 9, 2016 Meeting

Member Ingram: I’m not sure why Member Stephens isn’t here.

Chair Ransom: I’m not sure either. We do have bylaws that excuse two absences from each board member.

Open Records Request—Assign Board Member Youmans to assist office staff

Chair Ransom: Vice Chair Youmans has offered to assist the staff with this without charge. Everything that is being requested by FOIA, Vice Chair Youmans has access to. But if you’d rather have the office staff do it, that’s fine.

Member Ingram: I’d rather have the office staff do it.

Member Clayton: I’d prefer office staff.

Tentative Scheduling Availability for Depositions

Chair Ransom: [provides the board with a two-week window.] Please let me know your availability, and I’ll give that information to our attorney.

Certify May 24th Hancock County General Election

Chair Ransom: We are not prepared, due to the information we received from Supervisor Medlock, to certify until 1:30pm today. It seems you would like to be present for the election certification. Should we call a special circumstances called meeting, once the IT specialist is here?

Member Ingram: I’d prefer that, once the information is given, I’d prefer we have a called meeting to certify by vote.

Chair Ransom: how much notice do you all need?

Member Ingram: I need at least 24 hours. I’m not going to be available this afternoon.

Vice Chair Youmans: the chairperson of the board of elections is authorized to call, according to the Georgia Open Meetings Act, a special circumstances called meeting. If you so choose, you may call the meeting one minute before the meeting is to occur. There is no mandate of having 24 hours notice to conduct a special circumstances called meeting. Given these extenuations, we do not have the technical advantages we need to put Member Stephens here telephonically. We have two other members who cannot come this afternoon. So, we won’t have a quorum for a meeting this afternoon. What you can do is temporarily authorize the Elections Supervisor to certify the election. And if that motion fails, we’ll know we’ve done our due diligence to certify the election.

Member Ingram: my understanding was that we would be certifying the elections results during this meeting. I’m not available this afternoon.

Member Clayton: there’s a lack of communication when it comes to certain members of the board. If I had known that we couldn’t certify the results during this meeting, I would have [expressed concern at that time].

Member Clayton: reads page 351 of their OCGA handbooks, “Opinions of the Attorney General: certification of election results; election supervisor cannot certify elections and primary results.”

Vice Chair Youmans: that is an opinion of the Attorney General. It has no weight in the court of law.

Vice Chair Youmans: motions that the board delegate authority to the elections supervisor to certify the election.

Seconded by Chair Ransom.

Chair Ransom & Vice Chair Youmans vote aye; Member Ingram & Member Clayton vote nay. Motion fails.

Citizens Comments

Ralph Turner: I’m an elector who has been assigned to every district in Hancock county. I voted in the wrong district in at least 3 election cycles. I’m on my 7th assignment. I would like to see some way that the board makes an effort to figure out these problems before the election is certified. That’s what’s happened in the past—these problems happen, the election is certified, and then the problems are forever swept under the rug.

Roshiva McCrary: I have statements signed by affected parties. I am a resident of Hancock County. I have been so for over 30 years. I have copies of my formal complaint that I would like to file with the board of elections. My complaint is in reference to the mishandling of absentee applications that were requested through the office on Friday, May 20th 2016. My uncle, upon entering the office, was asked: who did he want the applications for? I cannot understand why he was asked this. Ms. Nubia Baker was the individual assisting him with the request. Attached you’ll find a statement from my uncle, explaining what happened. Nubia stated that the applications could also be prefilled, and that’s why she asked him who the applications were for. On Monday, we did not receive the requested absentee applications. We called the office and Nubia stated that she could not send the applications to the address as listed. We asked why we were not informed of the issue with the address on Friday, given that Nubia prefilled the application with my uncle still in the office. Nubia responded essentially “too bad, you cannot vote in this election.”

[three minute public comment time runs out]

Member Clayton: I think based on this statement she’s making, given that it relates to the election that we’re certifying; I think we need to give her time to express all of her concerns.

Vice Chair Youmans: I think the best thing is to do is to absolutely have Ms. McCrarey on the agenda for the next meeting. If Ms. Baker did say “too bad, you don’t get to vote,” to me that’s a capital offense, and I would not want her working in our office. This is information well-worth consideration beyond the three minutes [allotted for public comment].

Paul McGee: the registrar’s office does not conduct itself in a way that is helpful to citizens who want to vote. Voters are treated very, very terribly.

Maxine Evans: I heard that a voter went to a precinct but a Republican ballot came up. That precinct allowed him to vote again. My sister came to this district where she asked the poll watchers in your office to make sure she voted in the right precinct. Her representative did not show up on her ballot. She couldn’t vote for her district election. I think that every voter should get a chance to vote for who they want to vote for.

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