Special Called State Election Board Meeting and Hearings 1-22-20
Office of Secretary of State GA State Election Board Meeting and Hearings
2 Martin Luther King JR. Dr. SE 18th Floor, West Tower Room 1816 Atlanta, GA 30334
Meeting Public Comments Section
**Note spelling of public comment names may be incorrect – based upon introductions
Comment – Why are we deploying 33,000 voting machines that are large and don’t provide ballot secrecy. Ask you to halt the machines until ballot secrecy can be assured.
Comment – D. Bowers – Gwinnett – GA predicted to see a record number of voters this season. How and where equipment is deployed will
1 voting booth for every 250 voters. Counties will receive 1 BDM machines for every 250 voters. Each county is reviewing their polling places to ensure they have the electric circuits and space. Do you have one standard for some polling places and not the rest? She gave some stats about how many machines per amp. What would solve this is paper ballots
Comment – Carolyn – Cobb County – candidate – proposed rule – I’m concerned about QR codes because they can be changed. I’m concerned about human readable portion. I can’t read a QR code
Comment – Woman – EPoll booths have problems. Which component of the old system caused the longest lines? The EPoll Booths – electronic poll booths – sent people to the wrong precincts. State law requires a certified electors list with robust standards and must include info and be certified. Your proposed rules – we ask you to add certified electors list with definitions. Add that certified electors list must be included.
Comment – L. Seiger – voter Fulton and student – I’m a rising voter and this is the first election my peers can be a part of. I’m astounded by what I’m seeing. Athens – Clark won’t receive their machines till Feb. 3. Gwinnett hasn’t received their equipment. Equipment was required by Jan. 20. The state was required to have a backup plan for pilot election. Cobb was part of the pilot program. The issues with the new voting plan could have problems. The emergency ballot plan is not a substitute for a plan.
Comment L. Diggs – Cobb County voter – the new emergency ballot rules are well intended to change the voting procedures when the uniform plan doesn’t work. Problem is that they are vague.Who makes the decision that an emergency exists? Rule says superintendent, election supervisor, election director? The superintendent says to have paper ballots on hand. Some say 5%. Some interpret the rules to say an emergency must be tolerated for 30 minutes before the decision can be made. Some say other. We encourage you to make this more clear.
Comment – E. Nakamora – GA’s polling places.. Protecting voter privacy includes scanners and machines. She read rules for privacy about voting booths. During pilot elections – I observed problems with this – public observers not allowed inside. She suggests secrecy sleeves and say that enclosed spaces need to allow better
Comment – S. Roberts – candidate and Sandy Springs voter – what kind of certification testing has been done that votes cast on new tablets can be seen from 20 feet away. They fail at most basic level to ensure privacy. As a candidate this affects me personally. Help America Vote Act – not compliant. How can you watch these noncompliant machines be rolled out. It’s a serious problem requiring a serous solution.
Comment – L. Troup – Dekalb – I spent 30 hours observing new machines. People said they could read the printout with difficulty. Magnifiers need to be available. Democratic party asks the type by larger – 12 point Arial. A member of Safe Commission said if we provide the voter with a paper ballot of what they’ve done and they don’t take the time to look at it, it’s their responsibility. The readability of the printouts is a concern and the only way to ensure accurate elections.
Comment – Jean – Appointment of election boards – the rules that govern require appointment by parties and appointment by citizens. GA law confers on election board important… The election supervisor is a staff position and is accountable ito the election board. As Vice Chair of Morgan County Democratic Committee – I opposed giving Election Director to Election Supervisor because a paid staffer should not have a position that should be on the election board.
Comment – N. Vaughn Very few counties have the machines for the March elections. With not EMS system and the supplies to test the equipment. A draft poll manual went online last week and is incomplete. Today state election board is meeting to discuss revised rules after the public comment section today. GA laws require 20 days before the official rules can be posted and GA elections will be under way. It’s unfair to the people who run elections in 159 counties and their election boards. I would ask that you consider the backup plan.
Comment – J. Watson – Dekalb County – for me watching the rollout of this new election system is painful. The Secretary of State chose the lowest bidder with bad reviews. Dominion was truthful about their capability. Deliveries are running behind. To implement a new system well, you need more time to prepare. The law contemplates individual counties making hard decisions. Athens-Clark County said last night they are prepared to use paper ballots if there are problems. Will you stand with the Secretary of State if there are problems. Head in sand is a terrible way to run an election.
Comment – A. Henchler – represent visually impaired – CEI – Center for Visually Impaired – organization that serves all visually impaired. We are prepared to
The printed portion of the paper ballot – is not readable. People with low or no vision can not read. We ask for independent screen reading devices be allowed so visually impaired Georgians can vote. We stand ready to help visually impaired Georgians cast their ballot.
Comment – Gentleman – Nationally Federation of Blind in GA – I am also concerned about accessibility of ballots and the new machines that were chosen – will read ballot out loud. The Dominion devices are confusing and the audible instructions are challenging. What is being done to address this? Will you provide a way for visually impaired to confirm the ballot that is printed out
Comment – R. Smith – member National Federation of the Blind in GA – also concerned about verification of the paper ballot. You have the ability to scan drivers license and state id. Why can’t this be done for voting and the paper ballot to confirm the ballot. This is a concern in the blind community.
Comment – M. Robinson – Fulton – Board Member of National Federation of Blind in GA – I was one of the testers for the Dominion Machines. I stated emphatically all of the concerns already stated today. Going forward my concern is the accessibility of the printed ballot and ask you consider scanning the ballot or the use of an app on their phone. Many blind people in GA don’t have smart phones. Ask you consider ways to make our right to vote accessible to everyone
Comment – B. Hudgins – Good morning. Thank you all for allowing us the opportunity to engage in public comment. I’m a recent transplant to Atlanta from Macon, and this city has afforded many opportunities to me thus far. – Addressing previous wait times, lack of equipment and lack of clarity around new voting machines. There is a lack of consistency in making sure there is 1 machine for 250 voters – House bill ….. There are elections happening right now. The lack of action is affecting current elections. The organization that I work for has contacted over 2 million voters. Last year when the hurricane struck south GA many people couldn’t vote. I’m concerned about what constitutes an emergency. The definition is vague. Before another hurricane situation happens – what are we going to do.
Comment – H. Butler – Executive Director for the People’s Coalition – most concerned about protecting the right to vote for all GA citizens – What I’ve heard today is that we don’t seem to be ready for this election Early voting days should remain the same. We shouldn’t have to change polling locations because of the new polling system. We should not limit the access to voting. Make sure that voters have total access to the ballot and that they are not made to drive inordinate distances to vote in addition to the written requests we have sent to you
Comment – P. Poole – President Gwinnett NAACP – I attended the Gwinnett Board of Elections meeting – Gwinnett has not posted early voting info. Election supervisor announced they will decrease number of days. A citizen asked – why not use paper ballots. Election supervisor refused to answer. She stated polling workers are not trained to operate the machines. Gwinnett – will cause massive voter disenfranchisement because they are not allowing equal access to ballots. We are asking why Gwinnett is making illegal actions and we demand a written response.
Comment – Election Supervisor Cobb County – I would like to reiterate the code enforcement problems. The code section 213360 – was originally written prior to advance voting we have today. It’s not taking into consideration multiple machines in multiple places. In presidential primaries, Cobb has never had more than a 48% turnout. If one machine for every 250 people, that maxes out the units we have been allocated. We’ve never had that high of a turnout. I would like you to consider past turnout.
Comment – Brennan Center for Justice – The Brennan Center along with Common Cause has sent written recommendations – There’s been a lot of discussion around number of machines and could lead to some bad outcomes discussed today. Want to focus on issue of emergency and provisional ballots – we recommend more clear guidance about what it means to have backup ballots. In GA you’re looking at an average of 35%. During peak voting we ask for a blanket 35% or based on historical data to prevent long lines from forming should the machines go down. We appreciate your discussing this in an open manner and look forward to working with you as things move forward.
Comment – G. Tootle – I am a part of Rev Up GA and here with Colleagues for National Federation for the Blind – we have expressed our concerns about the confirmation of the ballot. We’ve heard of a lot of issues with the new ballots and the picture is bleak. This leads to marginalization of vulnerable populations. We feel there is a simple solution – by providing tablets at every polling location to verify our ballots. We want to be able to read the ballot once we have printed it. We understand that during this time of voter suppression, we want to make sure the ballots are accessible. Voting is a right and the law. The National Federation of the Blind is here to help so people can vote in a clear, transparent and legal way.
Comment – S. McQuethy – these new ballot marking devices add a new level to making sure that there are not errors. It is cognitively challenging to many votes to verify their ballots in tiny cramped font. Research proves that fewer than 7% of voters will discover discrepancies. The design of this system provides onus on poll workers to secure the vote. The Brennan and Michigan studies state verbal prompting is needed which means more poll workers and more training. Is this part of the plan? Are funds in place for the mitigation? Packing of elections are still possible is malicious operators know that so few voters will check their ballots.
Presentation and Consideration of State Election Board Proposed Rules
State BOE Chairman – For last month we’ve been working on the rules and they’ve been posted. We’ll let our Chief council Ryan Jeremy get us up to speed.
Chief Council – since the rules have been posted we have received and reviewed public comment. We have met to talk about how to proceed. I have some new rules to propose and some amendments to rules we posted last time.
State BOE Chairman: As we’ve been discussing, because of the timeline that we are on, there will be a molten to implement the rules that have been posted. Then we can consider amending the rules to tweak them. We want to continue to improve the rules.
Rules Section of Meeting
– First Rule – Assistive Technology Devices – Electors who need assistance – they can use their assistive technology devices and will not be in violation of rule against technology – They accepted this rule.
– Rule about Recounts – the process the Election Supervisor should go through when doing recounts – Post rule for recounts – passed this rule
– Rule 183-1-6.02 Rules for Voter Registration by Private Entities – required activities for third party registration – public comments brought up some typos – I ask board that we post the rule amended with corrected typos. Not critical that we adopt – re-post and consider next month. – Motion that we post for public comment. Accepted that they post amended rule
– Rule 183-1-12 – ask the board to adopt posted rule because addresses storage, transport of machines, polling place set up and necessary. Ask the board to accept the rule. Motion to adopt rule as posted accepted.
– Change – to storage requirement to clarify that counties can store these machines in a way that protects them from damage. Not as stringent as having to store in original packaging.
– Change – some things are required to be posted on election board website or on the legal organ if no website
– Change accredited poll watchers – must be able to observe – set up processing, elections and can not interfere –
– Change – emergency ballot situation – adding a clause based upon a comment – a sufficient number of emergency ballots must be at least 10% – providing guidance
– Change – based on Univ. of Michigan paper – certain interventions that would be helpful. After paper ballot printed and before scanned – it’s more helpful after it’s been printed. Each scanner has a poll officer stationed who must verbally remind each voter to look at their paper ballot.
– Change to do with provisional – when a provisional voter shows up it can be complicated for them to decide what to do and a lot to put on a poll worker to help them decide what to do. Adding that each polling place should have an info. sheet for voters to describe the law for the voter. EX – if you can’t get to your regular precinct you would do a out of precinct ballot. The voter will make the determination. Instead of having a poll worker make the legal or factual decisions, we will have an info sheet to help the voter make the determination.
State BOE Chairman – I have a comment about this rule – a provision was added that if a voter tries to leave a location with the ballot, a poll worker will tell them the consequences. Everyone has done a good job providing uniform information across the state. One thing I would like to add – photography after the polls are closed – these revisions and amendments are very well thought out, necessary and important
One of the suggestions we had to this provision of the rules was to state that…. spoke softly couldn’t hear. Suggestion was to add language that after the polling photographs would be allowed – voters have three days to cure problems with provisional ballots – anyone that wants to assist in doing this can make an open records request but won’t get ballot until after 3 days. To allow photographs of list of provisional ballots. I would like to propose this as an amendment. An amendment 183-1-1201 – The amendment would add language after the existing section 8 – after tabulation completed, accredited poll watchers would photograph some pages including lists of voters.
Chief Council- have concerns because poll watchers are now not allowed to use photography. If it’s after the polls close, is that probation lifted?
Post Rule 12 as amended –
Amend 183-1-12-.12 – tabulating results – section A8 – to add language – After the tabulation of election results have been completed, accredited poll watchers may photograph….
The amendment passed as presented by Mr. Worley
State BOE Member
– Rule – Change – Minimum number of voting booths – since we are moving back to an optical scanning system – it resurrected a GA code enacted a long time ago before early voting. About half of total voters vote early. The ratio is not the issue. The issue is that they don’t want voters to wait in line. The rule we posted was to allow counties to consider the number of voting machines on the last day of early voting to take into account there are many more ways for people to vote than just on election day. The way the rules working group has suggested to amend this…. We would face legal challenge if not in compliance. Amendment proposed today – defining the term electors to subtract the number of people who early voters. Take into account the reality of elections are different. The November election is going to have a massively different turnout than others. In the past, they could take that into account. We don’t want a law that ignores that reality. The law needs to be looked at from a legislative perspective. The rule we posted deals with early voting and lets you county early voting machines toward election day. The number of voting machines the state is providing to the counties meets the 1 to 250 ration. Now that we are going to an optical system, changes may be needed. Most counties it’s 2500 people per precinct and some are larger. The rules working group is considering this issue. Right now there is not a good solution and we need to work on what the law should be. There’s a rule we posted that we can adopt and continue to work on. Subtracting electors makes sense in a general election. Get to the aim that voters don’t have to wait in a long line.
Female State BOE member – Did the working group consider… I’m concerned are we changing the legislative intent. Did the working group consider anomalies?
Male State BOE member – it depends on the county. The proposed rule we consider for amending is not of the whole code
State BOE Chairman – concern – the statute says what the statute says – 250 voters per machine – we came up with a compromise that defines electors as those who have not voted on election day. The feeling in the working group is this is a good compromise to adhere to the legislative intent. The term electors would be those that have not voted on elected day. The county would put out ballot marking devices in presidential primary and general primary in May to meet legislative intent and meet demand.
Chief Council – the statute talks about voting booths and enclosures and doesn’t talk about markers. We have a provision where county election supervisor says, this line is too long, they can move to paper ballots. They could have additional voting booths without machines for that case. Second sentence basically says precincts – would help the counties – take out that sentence.
State BOE Chairman – at end of the day we don’t want long lines – 30 minutes or less. Some counties may have more machines than they want to have, but better to be on that side and have more machines.
Chief Council – that’s were we should be, but number of lines and machines don’t always correlate. A ratio of voting booths won’t always to that. Passing this rule helps. I don’t think all counties will love it. It doesn’t take into account that all elections are not the same.
State BOE Chairman – I appreciate comments, but I don’t see anyway around it. It seems to be up to us to come up with a rule so they can take into account who already voted on election day. We can pass the rule and then see if it needs to be changed or modified.
182-1-13-.01 Minimum Number of Voting Booths – Post for public comment a rule – minimum number of voting booths – the term electors shall be those who have not voted on election day – presented by Mr. Whorley – passed
Rule – 183-1-14-.02 Advance and Absentee voting – adopt the rule posted last month – accepted
Proposed amendments –
– Cities in Counties will still be able to hand mark ballots for advance voting – before the rule mistakenly said they could not.
– A different person than person at scanner can clarify questions so person stationed at scanners stay there
– If there’s an error on printed paper ballot – what to do
– In rule we just adopted – voters who’s signature don’t match on absentee ballot or forget to sign absentee ballot – there will be a procedure
– rejection notices need to get out quickly – next day. Concern in working group this isn’t feasible so it should be a goal.
State BOE Chairman – comments we received were very good an thoughtful and we have endeavored to adopt. I am especially pleased with the revisions to do with absentee ballot rejection. Period is clear and counties are clearly instructed what to do by mail and phone. It’s a very great improvement to our rules. Very much in favor of revisions.
Made a motion that we adopt the revised rules for posting for public comment the revised rules for 183-1-14-.02 advance voting, 183-1-14-.13 prompt notification of absentee ballot rejection – Passed
Final Rule – 183.1.15..02 Definition of Vote – no amendments – asking for it to be accepted. Accepted.
Article about meeting from AJC: Georgia election officials require more voting machines