The following includes brief notes taken by a Peanut Gallery volunteer as a public service only. Contact the Georgia State Board of Elections with questions or for official information.
STATE ELECTIONS BOARD MEETING – 4/15/2020
Summary of Public Comments:
- Rayburn, Thomas, Mark, Worthen, Germany from SOS staff
- Matt Mashburn moves to approve minutes, Rebecca seconds. passes unanimously.
- Joy Wasson – CGG HAVA violation hearing on March 27. “dismissed despite the fact that the witnesses witnessed ballot secrecy violations”. says HMBP will be ideal given pandemic and social distancing.
- Liz Throop – seeing lots of questions about voting on social media. Asks SEB to ask SOS to put a
- Saira – drop boxes. need to be state funded, 24/7 accessible, and counties all must have at least one, with larger counties having more. They should also be outside.
- Jeanine DuFort: concern about touching BMDs and in-person voting, and poll workers health concerns.
- Stacey Hopkins – problems w/ applications being returned as undeliverable – will SOS re-send these, and will returned applications be used as an NCOA proxy for inactivity?
- Rep. Park Cannon- public notice sent less than 24 hours before the meeting – state of emergency should not interfere with transparency, because there is a deep interest in elections despite the pandemic. We need to use CARE $$ to protect elections and ensure transparency
- Aileen Nakamura – ACC BMD case
- Libby Seger – GSU student – barcode should not be the official vote. Comment against optical recount procedure.
- Alyssa Goldclang – protect poll workers and citizens from COVID-19 pandemic. BMDs are not safe. Must use VBM and Absentee ballots – poll workers should use gloves when opening ballots.
- Laura Walker – in-person voting for PPP/General primary is unsafe.
- Jacqueline Elsner – Athens GA – against ACC decision, against QR code definition of vote.
End of Public Comment
Summary of Proposed Amended Rules
- Provisional Ballots – poll book with all registered voters is required in the polling place, not at the provisional ballot station. Rule passes unanimously.
- 183-1-14-.13 Prompt Notification of Absentee Ballot Rejection – County must reach out to the elector if phone or email is on voter registration or on absentee ballot request form. Worley speaks in favor – says it is a great improvement over current practice. passes unanimously.
- 183-1-15-.02 Definition of a Vote – if there is a discrepancy between the voter’s choice and the recorded vote, the voter’s mark will be the vote. But does not disallow scanners in any way. Passes unanimously.
- 183-1-15-.03 Recount Procedure – amends rule to provide for manual hand recount if no scanners pass testing or if court orders it. Passes unanimously.
Emergency rule on ballot drop boxes – Rayburn and Lynn Bailey (Richmond county) are main drafters.
COVID-19 response – add an additional way for voters to return absentee ballots. This allows registrars to establish one or more drop boxes at their office or on other government property. Allow non-contact return of ballots.
○ Pulled a lot of this from Colorado’s rules to avoid reinventing the wheel.
○ Finished the rule “not too long before this meeting”
○ Suggestion from the Rules Committee to make this mandatory, Germany says that some counties are not prepared to do this on short notice. Possibly if we adopt a permanent rule, that would be appropriate, but right now it isn’t because of the short notice.
○ In the future will “probably see widespread adoption from other counties”
○ Drop boxes need to be securely fastened to the ground or on a fixture. Security of boxes is paramount.
○ Mashburn brought up the need to make sure people handling ballots are sworn like poll officers.
○ In #9, makes boxes clearly labeled “absentee ballot drop box” clearly display signage about harvesting and destruction of ballots (like Colorado’s labeling provisions).
- Emergency rule – no public comment and rule is effective immediately.
○ Effective for ONLY June 9. SEB would have to come back later to make a permanent rule.
○ Seems like the public does not get to read the rule before it is adopted.
○ Worley asks if limiting to the June 9 election includes the runoff, or if this would need to be passed again for the runoff
- Germany says as it’s written it would only apply to the June 9 primary, but SEB can amend to make it apply to the runoff as well.
- Germany is looking at (per BR direction) whether and how to use grant money to “help counties establish these locations” – unclear if this will be state-funded but sounds like it will be largely paid for by the counties.
- Worley says the rule is good and necessary, and will help counties and voters in the pandemic.
- Passes unanimously
Meeting adjourns. BR leaves reconvening in future emergency meetings as a possibility due to COVID-19.
Detailed Notes of Public Comment
Joy Watson-DeKalb County March 27- AVA – compelling overwhelming evidence that secrecy is not being honored and not complying to the Georgia law-claims were dismissed. She is advocating for hand ballots and applauds Athens Clark.
Liz-DeKalb County- Voting on social media? She asked a lot of rhetorical questions that she says have simple answers and asks an FAQ on their websites
Ms. Draper- Ballot drop boxes? She is glad the Board is taking into consideration and gives points why it’s important. Standards: Needs to be funded by the State (use it or lose it funds), jurisdiction with larger populations should have more funding and locations outside due to social distancing and timing. Needs to be available three weeks before the election date. -(She was cut off).
From Madison GA- Anecdote of a 60- year- old person who died due to exposure of covid-19 at polling sites. Instead of helping for next steps on voting SOS decided to talk about voter fraud rather than voter suppression. She is demanding the protection of poll workers and voters and relates to Wisconsin and calls out Board members, as the safety of Georgians is on their hands.
Stacey Hopkins: Will the SOS mail new applications to the people who were sent to the wrong address and the USPS considered non deliverable.
Rep. Park Cannon- Even though we are in a state of emergency. The concern right now is amended rules on provisional rules and recount procedure and absentee ballot. We have to give public notice on how Georgia will fully count ballots in 2019.
Ailene N. – Provide absolute ballot, one machine 250 voters, visibility to prevent tampering and the State lawyers for all counties to follow these. Calls out the Board member’s and their occupation- how they did not protect their constitutional rights. This means equipment and protection.
Libby GSU Student- How many times will people repeat themselves until the Board listens? How can a QR code be the result of the elections? Asking to not adopt the rules and redefining the vote in order to keep out votes protected.
Alissa G- Priority: protecting poll workers and voters. Covid-19 is not going away and this could lead to the fall election. She and her family are in the medical field. Her recommendation is to not have touch screens as the virus lingers on hard surfaces and the air. For the safety of people, absentee ballots are a must and gloves at polling stations. Ten times as many dead on 9/11. Please put your egos aside and save our citizens.
Laura Walker- Chair of Mis-Dems- in person voting is not safe yet. It would be one thing to have valid data to be able to target how and where it spreads,but we don’t. GA is lagging 45/50 on the amount of people we are able to test.
Jaqueline E- Athens GA- Goes to Athens Clark Board of Election meeting routinely. Advocates for the March meeting had supported protection secrecy to ballot. Now the definition of a vote, should be the actual names of the people voted for and not a QR code.
End of Public Comments
Detailed Notes on Amended Rules
SOS Raffensperger: Brings up the provisional ballots and rules for the meeting
Board Member 183/1/12.18; Counties require an electronic poll at the station.
Matt BM- rule be adopted as published and is seconded.
All voted in favor
183-1-14.13; change to make it this rule of existing voter registration information of phone number and email about absentee ballot being rejected.
David W. This entire rule is a great improvement to practice and notification on ballots and their status.
SOS: Some comments were made about notification and as these applications are out there with phone numbers to have access to notify voters.
Board Member: Agreeing with SOS and motions to adopt it-David W. seconds.
All voted in favor.
Board Member: Edits are adding a few sections that show any discrepancy of a voter’s mark on a ballot or the choices on the ballot and the voter’s mark. Also the marks on an electronic ballot will be taken into account? (His voice cut off for me)
All voted in favor.
- More detail in 1.c about how the County must test the scanners before a recount
- Recount by manual ballot- if no scanner pass the testing or if court ordered.
Motion to adopt as public-seconded.
All voted in favor.
Mr. Germany: Emergency rule on absentee ballot drop boxes:
Mandatory to have each county have one. It is understandable yet some counties may not be ready to adopt this. To put it is a requirement right now, is not appropriate. Counties who are interested can do it.
Drop boxes secured to the ground: Concern about how they will be done indoors? Added that the people handling the ballots are sworn like poll officers. Added (9) drop boxes should be labeled and each location contain signage to explain the law. He mentions how Colorado does this. This rule only applies to June 9th, 2020. Will be repealed after 6th months yet only apply to June 9th deadline for the primary. The Board will have to come back for a permanent rule.
David W: Will this apply to the runoff?
Germany: This will only apply to the General Primary and we can add the runoff if the Board wishes.
Board Member: How to use grant money to help counties establish these locations?
BM Matt: Great job how this rule is written, and motions to adopt- second
David W: comments- Good idea and am anxious to see how it plays out.
All voted in favor.
David W. adjourns meeting.
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