Fulton County 6-11-20 BOER Meeting Highlights
Public Comments about the June 9 election lasted for almost two hours. The public asked questions, expressed outrage and offered help. See public comments at meeting start and end.
Operational Reporting for June 9 Included
Polling Locations – Fulton lost 45 polling locations because of Covid – 19, and 10 Locations opened late on Election Day, June 9
Absentee Ballots – The county received 85,933 absentee by mail ballots, a 100 fold increase from the 2016 general primary. There were major complaints from the 26,000+ emailed ballots, which had multiple technical difficulties in receiving and processing. The state may set up an online portal for the next election to solve some key problems. Absentee ballots mailed from out of state by the end of May had arrival issues. One suggestion was to use local mailing vendors, adjustments to ballot printing systems and high speed ballot scanners for large counties.
Voting Machines – There were technical issues throughout the day including electrical circuits overloading, machines freezing, card creation errors, and scanner issues. All counties had trouble uploading to the poll pads. Some polling locations ran out of paper.
Poll Workers – Fulton lost 400-500 poll workers mostly due to the pandemic, including many workers who cancelled or no-showed on Election Day.
In-person Poll Worker Training ended in March when training became virtual. The new technology was difficult for some older poll workers. Assignments and video training was sent to 358 poll workers the day before the election.
Wait Times – More people showing up than expected with absentee ballots coupled with lengthy time to install new machines, caused longer wait times.
Voting Hours – A court order was issued to extend voting hours to 9:00pm. A few polling locations initially resisted.
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The 6-11-20 meeting can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KWWt3jIHfs
Meeting Agenda – Click Here
Fulton County Registration and Election Board Meeting 6-11-20
These notes were taken by an attendee.
The meeting was called to order and began with Public Comments. The meeting chat box is included below the meeting notes.
Two minutes allowed per person.
Voting by mail – One of the issues was that people did not receive by county because the county did not have time to process. Some drop boxes were not available. Affidavits took up a lot of time. Making voters use provisional ballots instead of machines because of time. Voters had to decide if they wanted to be compassionate and do a provisional ballot. They had to call the county for affidavits. Some places were trying to close the polls before court mandated time. Seniors were told they couldn’t go to the front of the line. We did last minute robocalls to get info out.
Abbie Green – Resident of Fulton County – Delivered food and water to poll workers and individuals in Fulton County. I wanted to listen and learn more about how this could have happened that citizens were in line for a number of hours. There were signals that this would happen in early voting.
Speaker – Male – couldn’t be heard.
Aileen Nakamora – Hoping the Coalition for Good Governance can help Fulton and other governments find out what went wrong. It appears that the Secretary of State office is throwing the counties under the bus and saying, we don’t run the counties. Everything was done so hastily and without thought. Almost no training. We have documentation. Getting machines to counties was not done well. Machines were brought in at the last moment and poll workers couldn’t train before on how to use it. Elections are about the details. It seems the Secretary of State office is not about the details. Since counties have to do it themselves, we have things that would make it easier for counties.
Tracey Adkinson, Past President League of Women Voters -The League would like to partner with the Board of Elections to increase participation and better prepare for the next election. We would like every registered voter in GA to receive an absentee ballot in light of the pandemic and what happened on Tuesday. I ask that you make a strong push to recruit new and younger poll workers for runoffs and for the November election for poll workers that may not be able to work. We ask for better training for poll workers so they can adequately handle machines and for provisional ballots. We ask that you petition the board of commissioner for additional equipment – machines and staffing based on results and turnout on Tuesday.
Jep Wyatt – I’m furious let me know what we can do to hold them accountable
Joseph Hesskamp – For days people have taken to the streets. June 9 systematic oppression. People have wondered if their government has learned anything from Martin Luther King Jr. One of the largest voting precincts in the state of Georgia at Helen Mills had only 8 machines. Cramped unsafe environment during Covid 19 pandemic. It seems that the government is not listening to the people. We need to end the systematic voter oppression. Quote from John Lewis: I appeal to all of you to get involved in the great revolution sweeping this nation. Ge in the streets until true freedom comes and the revolution of 1776 is complete.
Toni Watkins – Recognized didn’t get to speak, Matt Young. Sound issues.
Rhonda Jay Martin – I went to Sutton school where I am a poll watcher – sign about if polling hours were extended. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. You’ve been placed in an impossible situation. Having the Secretary of State take over and blame you. Hiccups with machines – first time this was going to be a bumpy road no matter what. Fulton having the most voters put us in a hole. Having so many absentee ballots without warning made the hole deeper. In service to voters of Fulton, take your power and stop surrendering powers to the state. If there’s anything the Coalition for Good Governance can do to help, let us know.
Mr. Johnson – Can you call people in advance and let them unmute?
Regina Waller – Name called
Toni Watkins – I’m a Fulton voter and organizer part of election protection with New Georgia Project. What we observed was voluminous. The lack of polling booths at 7am and misunderstanding of election rules by poll workers was extremely alarming. I was present as well as my supervisor Erica Clemmons Dean and a representative. We offered to help with staffing of poll workers and were not accepted. We saw Facebook and Instagram notices for workers and noticed their poor training. My greatest concern was problems in high concentrations of people of color. I’m interested in early voting problems in white areas versus black and brown polling locations. We saw people being turned away at 7pm as opposed to 9pm and obstruction of doors and roads to get in.
Katie White – Toni hit it on the head. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence of the differences in South Fulton vs. North Fulton. In South Fulton people got incorrect info and waited for hours and in North Fulton people were in and out in 20 minutes.
Thomas Marr – My issues are very simple. There was a serious lack of preparation. The County did not have enough volunteers or trained volunteers and last minute voting machines
Erica Clemmons Dean – Thank you for hosting this meeting. I want to second and third what everyone else said. One of my concerns was that there was no possible way to social distance. From 7:00 am to 12:50 am there were 200-300 people in line all day. No way to social distance. No PPE’s were handed out. We as the New Georgia Project Election Protection team were there to provide that PPE. What is going to happen with the next election? We need to pay close attention to Covid cases that come out from Tuesday. Will you offer more testing at locations? A lot of places ran out of paper and that held – New Life Presbyterian didn’t have paper for over two hours. Got it at 9:00. We need to see that the lack of paper does not prevent people from voting.
Matt Youn – We emailed the commissioner to get an absentee ballot and got two days before the election. People didn’t know if they should go early vote or wait for the ballot and then went and voted on election day. Want to make sure this is handled correctly.
Eric House – We had many precincts with 3 hour waits in North Fulton. Polling machines unused while voter ids were being checked. Where are delays coming from? Why are there differences in the north and south of the county? Did we not have enough staff? Was equipment not working? Should the county loan employees and the school system? Are you asking the questions of what we are going to do to get it right for November?
Venita Epps – I want to tell about one person’s experiences – want Toni Watkins and another to pay attention. They alluded to the north side and south side differences. At my polling location I want to provide positive feedback from a voter in the south. I was at the polling location at 6am and by 7:20am I was done. I was the fourth voter at my precinct. I did my research on the ballot before I went and that helps expedite the voting process. As a manager I spent my time during Covid making sure I know how to use the new equipment and preparing. The Secretary of State bears responsibility for purchase and implementation of new equipment. As poll workers we have a responsibility to learn how to use the equipment and rules. I encourage everyone who commented to sign up to become a poll worker
Representative Canon – Unsafe conditions. People were pushed into a room with no PPE except for outside organizations. The lines are being tracked – long lines GA. I’m concerned about how the My Voter Page was updated. It was out of date until the day of election online. When did Fulton county send the updated locations to the state. If they were trying to update overnight, I received the updated locations on Monday after 4pm and My voter page updated after. Did any poll workers quit on election day, and if so we need to fill positions.
David Fitzgerald – I have a couple of quick comments – On the poll workers – I’m a North Fulton voter. Is there not some proactive steps poll managers take to verify attendance especially due to Covid. Could we have known ahead of time. Metrics for polls – representative canon mentioned. Can we include some types of statistics like the number of voters per poll worker, voting machines, etc. so we have the proper amount of everything. We submitted an absentee ballots application weeks ago. At our polling location there was no link. I rode up to polls after news reports to see. I would hope that metrics could help us properly equip across the county.
Patrick Labott – I’m a Candidate. Thank you, the dialogue is needed. Are absentee ballots going to be sent out again and if so when? I see that early voting starts July 20 and runs through when? I would like to have the dates. The polling locations based on the issues we continue to hear can we locate larger and more adequate spaces.
Damita Chatma – We shouldn’t have to go through this during an election. I think Mr. Richard or Fulton County Commissioners should have him step down. It’s like this every election on the South side. We shouldn’t have to wait for paper or other things. Enough is enough. He should step down
Lisa Martin – I voted at North Fulton Annex. Went smoothly except the machines close together and couldn’t social distance. I will vote early next time. I know you are volunteers on the election board – call in help so we can go to our representatives and fight for what you need.
Mike Marshall – I voted absentee. I did the email method and got no response, so I did drop box method. I went to poll locations as a volunteer to hand out snacks. I saw over 3 hours of lines. People were concerned about being fired from their job or having to lie. We need worker protections so workers won’t be punished for going to vote on election day. I helped a lot of voters trying to find their polling place. We have to do better to let people know where to go and how to get more information.
Jonathan Canales – Who’s responsible for lack of preparedness of resources and intelligent distribution of resources? Why can’t people go where they want if we have the resources to keep up with people?
Melanie Morgan – Yield time to Park Canon
Park Canon – Make sure the public knows more. The buck stops with the Secretary of State’s office. How can we involve the public? There is public outcry. They just voted on taxes. People are looking to see how we can leverage that funding.
Katrina Griessman – I sent an interview with Kathy Cox about the training she did when new machines rolled out in 2002. There was a technician in each county and other resources. Did you get the same support? Runback suppliers in Arizona – was Fulton able to communicate with them or only the Secretary of State?
Vanessa Kelly – I’m a voter in Fulton County and was a first time poll worker. I submitted an absentee ballot a month ago and didn’t get a notification that my ballot was received until just before the election. I did training by myself online and wasn’t told where to go until 10:30pm Monday night. I can attest that training was minimal. I’m 33 and was able to get through it with no problem. I was the youngest person there. Everyone else working was older than me and had trouble figuring it out and didn’t understand. They asked me to get scanners working. I fear what would have happened if I wasn’t’ there. I spent hours trying to control the line inside the library. Outside there was no way to social distance.
Vernetta Nuriddin – Would like to close comments as soon as people have had a chance to speak
Councilwoman Catherine Rowell – at 7:15am I began receiving calls about long lines at the recreation center. What I heard throughout the day – people said they hadn’t received absentee ballots. Problems continued throughout the day. ….. She went in and out on zoom. North Fulton I heard people got in and out in 15 minutes. In Union City at 1:00am people were still voting. Need to provide seating. Seniors couldn’t stand that long. IT teams need to deploy to deal with any situations. We cannot afford to have these problems in November. All of these organizations including Coalition for Good governance need to work with us to provide
Councilwoman Wilis – District 3 – I did get several phone calls about the voting process and visited. Long lines. Seniors not pulled up to front. Dropbox for absentee ballots was locked. On election day I went to Walkama? Park – three voting machines went down. Staff was irritated. Customer service was awful. Staff not trained. Manager didn’t understand technology. People didn’t know how to find where to vote. I would suggest you partner with civic organizations to find staff. Have IT people to address issues that arrive. I don’t understand at Walkama why I used a small room when there’s a gymnasium. Disabled people and seniors were not pulled up to the front of line. In Fulton I’m embarrassed and ashamed – this happened twice in my district in early voting too. I left messages for you. I got bombarded with questions from constituents. I had to help at polls and pass out water. You need to send out the absentee ballots – not applications. Absentee ballots – send them and encourage people to use them.
Mary Carole Cooney: I’m getting a lot of comments about pending issues.
Wanda Mosely – Yield my time to Representative Park Canon – about federal funding.
They didn’t yield. Mosely – I’m a resident of South Fulton and work at Black Voters Matter. I arrived at my polling location at 7:00 am and the doors were not open. AT 7:15 am they notified us they didn’t have the key. At 8:45am said they needed more time. There were about 200 people in line. I didn’t get to vote at that time because I had to work. I went to North Fulton precinct and there was no wait like at my precinct. I went to Adams Park library precinct where two poll workers quit. They didn’t start voting until after 8:00 am. At First Presbyterian there were well over 200 people in line and no paper. At Union City the last voter emerged at 12:40 am. A voter said he had been in line since 7:00pm. On the record – we will have record turnout in November and need to be prepared. Was interrupted
Kevin Caron – I’m disgusted with how you cut off Ms. Mosley and would like to give her my time. They didn’t allow it. Kevin: We’re in a situation where people are marching in the streets because black folks are being gunned down, and we’re told to go vote. Yesterday was a sham, and you’re cutting people off for giving us valuable information. I’m ashamed to be a resident of Fulton county and see the New York Times and the rest of the nation laughing at us. I go to a protest at the governor’s office and millions of dollars are spent on the police and military and not the voting process. I would like you and everyone else to resign.
Jeseth Griffith – My second time voting at Bitsy Grant. I’ve never had issues with voting. I’m concerned that there are differences in where you live. I asked poll workers, and they didn’t experience issues that were elsewhere. No lines, so socially distancing not a problem. Would like to know if there are plans for cooperation between the Secretary of State and Fulton to discuss a plan together versus blaming. What is the plan for absentee ballots? I don’t have confidence in that process with Covid.
Andrew Kurish – Couldn’t hear him so they moved on.
Khadijah Abduraman – Representative in 6th – I want to apologize for problems. Anytime seniors can’t go to the front of line is a problem. Locations didn’t open at 7:00 am and had rude staff. I think that we as a group don’t want to see the south side disenfranchised. We must find a way to solve the problems. To disenfranchise one voter is to disenfranchise everyone. I received calls. People in South Fulton after midnight were horrendous. At Ben Hill the polling site was not to be closed until 9:00 pm and had closed at 7:00 pm. To not have a proactive game plan in place is not acceptable. We must get with civic organizations who will partner with us to make sure we don’t disenfranchise one vote. We looked like a laughing stock to protect voting rights and we must do better.
Shea Roberts – Democrat nominee for house and resident Fulton – I hold the Secretary of State most culpable. I’ve been coming to meetings for over a year warning about problems with new machines and giving suggestions like backup paper ballots. How many people couldn’t vote because they didn’t get their absentee ballots and couldn’t vote because of illness or other reasons with Covid 19 pandemic? I personally sent you info about a woman with cancer who couldn’t vote in person and didn’t hear. Drop boxes – I communicated with my communities were secured and video surveilled. I witnessed two in my district 52 that were not. I went to my district and reported on waits – short waits. Buckhead and Sandy Springs had very different waits than South Fulton. You cannot rely on the Secretary of State so you must be diligent to correct these issues before November. Communicate with other organizations who have offered help like Council for Good Governance
Andrew Kurish – Technical issues – couldn’t hear him – bad connection
Susan Somach – Thank you to the board. I’ve worked in election protection for years. This is not the first time there have been problems. While the Secretary of State has problems, you as a board have delegated responsibility to Richard Barron. I am urging you to take responsibility. He is the leader and we need a better leader to lead the staff and get the work done regardless of the obstacles be it voter suppression, voting machines, the pandemic. It’s not personal, it’s professional. I urge you to use your executive authority to get the right person at the top so we are not a laughing stock and seen as incompetent.
Amara Kennedy – A staff member read his comment quickly. Have a lot of experience with elections. We all share frustrations with what transpired on Tues. Before the polls closed conversations started about blame. Too early. Calls have been made for resignation for people in the department. These calls are premature. The election staff needs to work towards a certified result and then we need to see what went wrong. The current staff needs to make that review. I offer my services to help.
Chelsea Ostrow – Turning down workers without a mask is not a rule and is voter suppression. Running out of paper – voter suppression. Not having interpreters, machines not working. I waited over 6 hours to vote. No social distancing. Machines and styluses not sanitized between voting. This is voter suppression. You are in charge. How are you going to fix this for the November election?
Shariz Reas – What happened on Tues. put us on the national stage of voter suppression of black voters and showed how the supreme court got it wrong in Shelby VS…. (sound went out)…. You failed to notify voters of changes. My neighbors received notice yesterday (6-10-20) of what our polling places should have been on Tues. (Bad connection)…. You should all be embarrassed. A number of civic organizations have reached out to make sure black voters are helped. Black voters should not wait 6 and 7 hours come November. You have it right in Buckhead, why can’t you get it right in Bankhead?
Kim King – Ask a couple of questions. We’ve heard some great feedback. When will we be able to review the transcript of the meeting? I would like to see a liaison with organizations. Delta Sigma Theta I am a member and serve on the Panhellenic council. We stand ready to help with the process.
Julie Erring – Resident of East Point GA – many voters who didn’t receive absentee ballots and requested them tried to call the Fulton County elections office many times over weeks and couldn’t get through. What plans do Fulton County have to staff phones to deal with demand. On 4/11/20 I sent in a request. I got through. The request wasn’t processed because of human error with the volume they got. I was able to vote with an absentee ballot but many of my neighbors could not vote. Why didn’t Fulton use emergency texting service to let residents know about election hours being extended to 9:00pm? The city used it to notify us of curfew, why couldn’t they use it to notify about voting hours? Many Fulton citizens didn’t know about drop boxes. Why weren’t we notified that we could take absentee ballots to drop boxes. Paper ballots – instead of having 10%, why not have more so could be readily handed out to people who need them? Our Representative said Fulton needed over 200 poll workers. I put out on social media and a neighbor of mine responded and emailed three people whose names we were given and was never followed up with even though he lives in College Park. What plan does Fulton county have to get poll workers?
Deborah Hempville – Poll worker. We need more tech savvy poll workers. It started efficiently but we didn’t have the paper later. A lot of poll workers are older and not tech savvy. Everyone can’t work the door. We need people to work with the machines.
Comment read – Fulton county poll workers had a true false test for poll workers. I took the exam and read materials. It is easy to mess up.
Chairman Pitts – Be on look out for two tasks forces I have set up.
The BOER Meeting started 12:00pm
Approval of Minutes – 3 meetings
May 14 regular meeting
May 14 executive session
May 19 special meeting
May 2020 Operations Report
Early voting for the June 9 elections began on May 19 at 5 early voting locations. The original five locations were the South Annex, CT Martin, Garden Hills Elementary, Alpharetta Library and also at Sandy Springs Library. We added another location on Wed. May 27 at Wolf Creek Library. We added 2 locations for the third week College Park Library and Roswell Library. We expanded hours originally approved from 9am to 4:30pm. We expanded those hours to 7am to 4:30pm on Wed. of the first week of early voting. We expanded early voting hours in week three to 7:00am to 7:00pm. We also increased at the original five locations we increased equipment allocated and at check in stations.
We tested over 1800 ballot marking devices, 167 scanners and 477 poll pads for the June 9 election.
We lost 45 polling locations because of Covid 19, 44 of those have been related to Covid19.
We had a total of 163 locations as of this operations report for election day, down from the planned 198 locations that we had reserved. We lost a number of locations. At churches it was due to concerns from Covid. Because the election was postponed from May 19 to June 9, we lost some schools due to renovations and the school year. We had to get out of all of our assisted living centers and that had a big impact on the number of locations that we had available.
We had acquired face masks, gloves, shields, alcohol wipes, syluses and hand sanitizer for the poll workers. We also had masks available for voters that did not have them when they came to the polls. We received a fairly large allotment of masks and other PPE from the state as well as what Fulton County purchased.
With regard to voter registration applications we received in 2020, we received 109,893. 22,019 of those applications we received in May. As of June first we had 814,681 registered voters in the county. 4705 of those are inactive voters. The total new applications for 2020 40,420.
256 letters sent to voters were suspected felons.
When processing absentee by mail, the county manager’s office was able to give us 40 additional employees from those on administrative leave and we were able to use them along with 10 supplemental staff.
We acquired and distributed 20 absentee ballot boxes that had cameras on them, and they were surveilled and monitored by Fulton County Police throughout the period those drop boxes were in use.
Voter Education team, because of Covid 19, were not able to be in the community once March 17 hit. We had a lot of events we were supposed to attend and all events were cancelled.
Mary Carole Cooney – Reminding all within earshot, this concerns what happened in May. Board members, questions? No comments or questions, Item 4 concluded.
Item 5 Discussion of Presidential Preference Primary and General Elections
Mr. Barron – Thank you to the speakers that joined in today. None of us were satisfied in the way many things in this election turned out. There are a lot of matters where we can improve for the next election.
On Tues. We had 10 locations we confirmed had opened late when we called polling sites on election morning. We went to the court to ask for extended hours. Throughout the day we received reports of BMD’s not working. We also had reports of some of the poll pads getting card creation errors. Some scanners were having issues in the morning. BMD’s you can only plug so many into a circuit. If BMD’s were inoperable, once technicians plugged the machines into another circuit they became operable. We had 45 polling locations changed so circuits changed. We had reports of shimmering, freezing or not charging – BMD’s. Each BMD is connected to a printer. The ones with scanners have two BMD’s and more with machines. They draw a lot of power from each circuit.
We lost 400-500 poll workers this election. We were back filling and recruiting new people. We determined based on feedback from poll workers, had we done in person training. In Feb. to March we did in person training. Then we didn’t have in person training again for the June election. We had to rely on virtual and video training. We had webinars and demonstrations and supply pickup for poll workers to go through to get added instruction when they picked up their supplies. Training day of election and that Monday before election. Going forward we will have to have in person training. A lot of decisions were made during the height of concern with pandemic. All poll workers across the county received the same training. We did video training. The training was well attended. We tracked how many people attended. We know that in person training is the most important thing we can do to make poll worker training better. We’ll have to require masks and train poll workers in person going forward for August and especially for November. We had managers promoted from lower positions. Many had received training for clerks and assistant managers in Feb and March. They got video training for managers.
We had 90 techs in the field on election day. Some were assigned to specific precincts and some were roving techs. We had one tech for every 2 precincts. That’s the highest ratio we’ve ever been able to get. We had line managers to look up info on My Voter Page to get people into a provisional line.
I talked to Chris Harvey – State Elections Director – he said they were going to be inundated with calls of people who didn’t know where to go on election day. On Monday we sent an alert through the Fulton County system – texts, emails and phone calls went out to remind people to check my voter page. We put notices on Next Door. Sent out a head of household mailing to households affected by polling location changes. It is not ideal to have that many polling location changes. We had as many as we have in a usual 2 year cycle.
Some things we found in polling locations on election day. There is a pause with the machine before pulling out the ballot – when pulled out it jammed. Also scanner issues. Need more equipment monitors. We had a lot of cancellations and no shows of poll workers. 358 people we sent assignments the day before election day and provided video training. Poll pads – cradle points are supposed to fix problems in the field. They didn’t operate properly and had to be sent in to be reprogrammed. All counties in the Metro area had issues with uploading info into poll pads. It Took 29.5 hours to upload info into poll pads. We had to deliver poll pads on election day because of upload times. Cobb or Gwinnett had to deliver theirs for uploading. Have to make sure uploading voter registration into poll pads quicker. It is difficult to upload that data in a timely manner. Had to do extra deliveries. Although the people assigned to us are good people, the warehouse felt the election day support was lacking.
With regard to, we ended up extending hours at polling sites from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. Those 10 sites we know were going late. We spoke with the county attorney’s office about polling sites that had problems or long lines or various equipment issues. When we finally got a hearing county’s attorneys office, they consulted with external affairs and with me and decided asking for extended hours would be the best thing for the voters. Some polling sites resisted, and we told them it was a court order and had to get extra provisional materials to the locations once the court order was granted. Every voter after 7:00pm, because a Federal candidate, had to vote a provisional ballot. We will count all provisional ballots on Friday 6-12-20. Our goal with extending the hours was to make sure anybody who had to leave a polling place earlier in the day or who had to wait in line was given a chance to vote on election day.
Absentee by mail was an undertaking that felt as though we were doing a separate election simultaneously as a regular election. In 2016’s general primary, we received 947 absentee ballots by mail. For this election, we received 85,933 absentee by mail ballots. Almost 100 fold increase in absentee by mail ballots. We had 30,325 people vote early. We had 95,952 people vote on election day for a total of 212,213 votes cast. That was a 27.6% turnout which doubled the turnout of the 2016 general primary and exceeded the more than 20% turnout that we had in the 2018 general primary.
The Secretary of State’s office sent out absentee by mail applications to all of the voters in the state of Georgia. They could be submitted three ways, through mail, email or via fax. The bulk of the applications we received and processed were through the mail. We received a number from email and fax. We received approximately 30,000 in presidential elections in the past. This election was almost three times a Presidential election. Going forward, we need to get with Fulton County IT and find out how best to set up the inbox that we have in order to distribute work. Normally we print out the absentee applications from the email in order to distribute in batches. The volume this election created a number of difficulties in distributing work. From the beginning of March through the end of the election, we received more than 26,000 emails in the two in-boxes set up to take absentee by mail applications. Almost all complaints we received for absentee by mail was from emailed applications. We really didn’t receive complaints regarding the processing of paper applications we received by USPS. The emails came in many different ways. Sometimes they were pictures embedded in email and sometimes attached to the email. We received them in so many formats. It was easy to print .png, .jpegs or .pdfs. When we tried to print applications from live files or movie files or various scanner files and sent to our Canon printers, Adobe would start spooling and we had to get Canon techs to work on that and IT techs to help with adobe. This plagued us in April for several weeks and was one of our biggest issues. We need to find a solution. Finally we abandoned printing the applications from emails in batches and started processing from the inboxes. IT helped distribute those. Need processes for what has been processed and what has been received. There are ways out there to do this. Cobb county had something called a sandbox that made it easier to do. We’re going to get with IT and find out the best way to set up those boxes and have a way to do confirmations to voters who sent in absentee ballot applications from emails.
Spoke to state about an online portal. They said they would set one up. Directors in other states I’ve spoken with have said an online portal should have been set up before this election. So that a voter could go in and submit it online and it would come through our voter registration system and be on our dashboard when we opened up Election Net every morning. That will be the most efficient way to do this because it will cut down on us having to go in and process these out of email boxes. The state from what I understand is underway to get this online portal. The state and counties had very little time to set this process up. can work to set up an online portal going forward. Because we weren’t able to process all of the applications that we had timely, wiith email applications – a lot of people worried they wouldn’t receive or didn’t receive their absentee ballots so they voted in person or at early voting. If we’re going to have an absentee program, people need to be able to count and depend on and get their ballots timely.
The state chose a vendor to mail the ballots. It’s my understanding that ballots were usually mailed in 72 hours. We received reports that once in the mail it could take 10 days to a month for voters to receive their ballots. We know that ballots mailed by Runbeck on April 21 – a lot of ballots mailed from Runbeck didn’t make it to voters. Mid May to the end of the period in which the counties took over mailing on May 29, anything processed up to the 28th were mailed by Runbeck – looks like the mail date was 6/1/20 before they were mailed. It’s unlikely that a lot of ballots mailed by the end of May made it to voters. Frustrating for voters and us.
We have enough mailing houses in GA to handle the job. Vendors could have been assigned around the state so no one vendor was overwhelmed by the number of absentee ballot requests coming in. As counties we should ask the state to keep the mailing local so the ballots get to voters quicker if the state is going to be in charge of mailing the ballots. If it falls back to the counties to do that, the counties can go to local vendors or use our own system. We have a blue press mailing system. When we took over the ballots on May 29, our old ballot on demand system, Balotar was like a Mazerati and the new Dominion Centron system was like a Pinto. One of the main differences between what we used to be able to do with Balotar and what we can do with Centron for mailing ballots, is we could process voters and put in an order through our former system and print the ballots in no particular order. Dominion Centron had to be entered by precinct. Can’t be printed in the most efficient manner for a county of our size for ballots on demand. The Dominion Centron system seems better for mid size or smaller counties for ballots on demand. Going forward, we will need to work with Dominion to see if they can process like we did before or work with a local vendor to help us with the mailing or order the ballots and use our bluepress system to fold and ship the ballots from here. It would be easier to have ballots pre-printed than to use the ballot on demand system with the Dominion voting system.
We asked for a number of ballot scanners. I wanted Fulton County to get the Dominon high speed scanners that could ballots not sent through the mail with all the folds, and can process 15,000 ballots per hour. The Canon scanners we got from state, we received an initial allotment of four of these – one must be used for the server. The other 3 were used for scanning ballots. We asked for 8-10 scanners. We got a total of 6. Yesterday at 7:15pm we finished scanning all of our absentees by mail. It helped that the State Election Board let us start the verification and scanning process a week before. We had around 25,000 done on Monday and scanned the other 60,000 ballots at the World Congress Center. High speed scanners would have helped us finish on election day. We got an email that said we could dismiss people when we got to a certain point. I let some folks go to the phone. We could have gotten them maybe done in the same day or morning the day after the election if we had had high speed scanners. Everyone got an email by the state on election night that if you had submitted at least one upload through election night reporting, you could go home for the night. I dismissed the GA World Congress Center when we got that from the state. We still processed all of our election date returns at our warehouse where you could tabulate the results. Overall the ballot scanner process – we need more scanners for the Presidential if we want to be timely with results or get the high speed scanners. You could get 400 ballots in an hour with the scanners we had. These scanners are more sensitive than the older ones so a higher number of ballots that needed to be duplicated which creates a lot of work on the back end.
Early Voting normally for Fulton County we would have 24 early voting locations with outreach locations in addition. For the Presidential Preference primary we had three or four of our normal libraries under renovation, we had 24 locations for early voting. For this election, I recommended to the board to approve 4 sites for the general primary. After I met with the Fulton County delegation, because we had this big gap between CT Martin and Sandy Springs where we didn’t have an early voting site. Fulton County delegation implored us to put a site in the midtown Buckhead area. The board approved Garden Hills Elementary, so we had five sites to begin early voting for this time period. I said going into it, if people voted in person early voting, they would probably have to wait in line. Because of the absentee ballot issues that we had, more people show up for early voting than we had anticipated. We had to make adjustments during early voting to accommodate people coming in to cancel their absentee ballot by mail. Whenever we added machines to early voting, there was a cascade of work in the warehouse to complete these. We lost some time to election day logic and accuracy testing in the middle of early voting. Just to complete a precinct of 10 ballot marking devices in the carriers, takes 90-120 minutes with a crew of 3-4 it takes to prep those10 BMD’s. If one person does it, it takes 4-5 hours to prepare, a marked increase to the old system. Because you have the BMD which is like the touch screen we had before, you also have printers and the UPS. We put everything in the carriers to make it easier on poll workers so all equipment is hooked up before you go to the polling locations. Can test equipment in the carrier, deliver it out, open it up, have the voters vote from it, seal it up on election night and send it out in one contained unit and use it over and over again for all the elections coming up in the future. In order to send out more machines during early voting – you have to create a security key for the scanner, poll worker cards and technician cards must be created. You have to print ballots for the precinct test scanner, poll pads tested for the precinct, have to test card creation for the BMD, test the BMD, test the connection between BMD and the printer, and also the UPS – battery backup, test seals, report serial numbers for BMD’s and scanners, it takes a lot. Every time you create a new machine, it’s a cascading effect at the warehouse. It compressed our time for logic and accuracy testing. Every new machine added during the early voting period, is the database has to be changed each time. That creates risk for tabulation. It can affect contests, races and districts. Going forward, regardless of pandemic, must work on allotment of early voting locations.
Once we got into early voting and decided to expand, 6 out of every 7 of our normal early voting workers declined due to covid concerns. Most had committed or expressed interest in working prior to early voting. Once we started voting and expanding hours and locations, the bulk of them declined. Most of our experienced processors sat out this election. There were a lot of concerns about virus transmission.
This has been the hardest election to ever manage. Not only because the county was closed during that time, but also because people were teleworking. We received 800 carriers at the warehouse and had to do quality control on those and get all of the equipment into those. We weren’t going to have as many carriers for the March Presidential Preference primary because the manufacturer was still producing them. The delay to the election helped us get more carriers out into the field. One of the things we need to make sure to do is get access to facilities. Some access because of pandemic, like CT Martin couldn’t get workers in before 6am. We sent warehouse workers to help every morning to help them get set up. Warehouse personnel were assigned extra duties that took them out of the warehouse for their normal accuracy and testing duties. Going to 20 different ballot drop boxes was time consuming. We ended up having a number of people using the drop boxes. As people become more aware of the drop boxes this year, they will use them more. We were able to pick up daily. We had a lot of ballots dropped into the drop boxes in the days before the election.
Fulton county has alway done early voting very well. A few things contributed to the lines – fewer locations than normal, the absentee ballots, us not timely processing all of the emailed absentee ballots, civil unrest increased turnout because more people were engaged in the process and wanted to vote. This was a record turnout in Fulton County.
The state requires us to send out 10% emergency paper and provisional ballots. We sent out more than 10% to every single precinct this time. We based those allocations on 2018 turnout and the number of people who had voted before election day in absentee so we could make adjustments to get more of those paper ballots out there. What created some issues at polling sites on election day, was when you have BMD problems, more emergency ballots had to be handed out than otherwise would have. We have to have more tech savvy poll workers that understand how power draw on different circuits affects machines In order to minimize the issues with the BMD’s on election day. We allocated paper to go out for the BMD,s, we allocated a 60% turnout for BMD paper.
Mary Carole Cooney – To our attendees to the extent we can I know you want good answers and that may not be available at this meeting.
The board wants to get together to give you good answers
Aaron Johnson – thank you to all of the voters who stood in the rain and hot sun. We did fail from the SOS to the line monitors, we all have things to work on. Ms. Griffith said we need to restore confidence in the system. As we restore confidence, we have to be honest about what we did. Thank you to the staff members and elected officials around the county who helped. The various groups who brought water, snacks, music and even trash bags for people to wear in the rain. Thank you. IT was not a problem to listen to every single person who wanted to speak today because they stood in line and waited.
Circuits for BMD’s caused delays in opening. One near my house, Clifton Dale United Methodist church – the key wasn’t there. If it was a circuit issue, that should have been handled earlier like Monday.
Richard Barron – we delivered machines earlier but they are sealed. We don’t have workers open the machines and seal before election day. We can look at procedures for that in the future.
Aaron Johnson – what was issue about code that had to be put in before could turn on the machine – heard from us and other counties
Richard Barron – there is an orange binder that has that information. They went out in the supplies. The poll managers were given that and keys.
Aaron Johnson – do we have a record of poll workers who showed or didn’t? Richard – yes
Aaron Johnson – The contention was that people were not showing up. We heard from people who wanted to work. Why weren’t other people who wanted to work allowed to work?
Richared Barron – we have workers signed up from our website application. We had people committed to work. We hired extra people from Happy Faces and Corporate Temps to work in the field. Over last weekend there was a push to get more poll workers into the field including provisional processors and line workers. I don’t think it was a shortage of interested people. When you don’t do in person training it’s harder to evaluate who the stronger workers will be. We would be happy to work with a lot of organizations. The panhellenic council I would be interested in working with her to get some poll workers. I would encourage people who had bad experiences to become poll workers. We need more younger people. They have an intuitive ability to work the poll pads. We need older experienced poll workers mixed in with younger people. We have a lot of older poll workers and were concerned about them due to the pandemic.
Aaron Johnson – normally when you request an absentee ballot do you get them the rest of the cycle?
Richard Barron – only if you’re over 65 when you request an absentee ballot you will get the rest of the cycle.
Aaron Johnson – this cycle when people applied for an absentee ballot there were problems. Are we making provisions for the 100,000+ people who applied for absentee ballots can we work to make it so they don’t have to request it every time. They get them automatically.
Richard Barron – the legislature will have to make a change that you can request to receive for the rest of the year. Another issue – for primary or runoff you have to request which party you want for your ballot. In GA we don’t register as a Democrat or Republican. For over 65 if you request a democrat or Republican or Nonpartisan, you receive those ballots the rest of the year.
Aaron Johnson – I understand that. Next week our legislative delegation or team could request that.
I want to be clear. We had discussion about provisional ballots from Tues. They will be counted Friday. If there are extenuating circumstances beyond 7pm everyone had provisional ballots. I thought they would be counted on Tues. Do people have to do anything for verification of those provisional ballots?
Richard Barron – The only reason that people would have to cure their ballot is if they didn’t have proper identification. We process all provisional ballots. We didn’t do it on Tues. because there were extended hours, if there was a court case the ballots after 7:00pm needed to be separated and counted. We’ll get you the provisional number. They are being processed right now.
Aaron Johnson – We need to do everything we can to restore confidence and make sure what happened stops.
Vernetta Nuriddin – Voters who mailed in ballots by mail and are showing that their ballots were not received, what’s happening?
Richard Barron – The ballots are supposed to be scanned by election net daily. If someone mailed in a ballot and it’s not showing on MVP, notify us. We had husbands and wives who mailed ballots the same day and one received and one not. As soon as we get it we scan.
Vernetta Nuriddin – How many ballots by mail have you received? Also it sounds like you’re not sure that all ballots are scanned.
Richard Barron – We can get you that number. We’ve scanned 85,933 absentees by mail ballots. We have scanned everything available to be scanned. We have anecdotal evidence of voters who are not showing up in MVP as having voted, and we know they were scanned.
Vernetta Nuriddin – I want to speak about the disparities with different parts of counties. Can you or one of your deputies can speak to why certain polls had no problems while others did.
Richard Barron – Based on the results the turnout among Democrats was much higher than the turnout of republicans. We allocated machines based on 2018 primaries. We took into account social distancing, the number of machines the facilities would hold
Blake Evans- I think we need to re-look and reconsider based upon what we know now. I stand by our training. We need to look at how we are getting people from Application to the polling place. We need to revisit all of that and see what we can do better.
Vernetta Nuriddin – Want to make sure we have concrete plans for August. I’m hoping to restore confidence in the people around this table and the very hard working people around Fulton who worked on the electron. What can you do for Augusts
Richard Barron – We are hoping to get a consultant in to help and work with county leadership to look at where we were successful and where we had failures. Also work with IT around accepting absentee ballots. We will survey poll workers. We will get with the activist groups for input and mine them for ways to reach younger poll workers. Expand early voting to the levels that we had prior. That will take a lot of the pressure off of election day. In the 2016 presidential election, 60% of people voted. Garden Hills – the smallest location processed the most early voters. What made that poll manager successful compared to the other sites. She used to be on our staff and is familiar with the system. She has some ideas to improve early voting.
Vernetta Nuriddin – What I’m hearing of the three top leaders of the election department is that you don’t know what to do to fix it. I was hoping the top three people would have an idea of what to do now instead of consultants and asking for help. Today you had a clear idea of what happened. I’m hoping that what you learned we can apply. You should have known more about what to do. The people who turned in their absentee ballot applications in a timely fashion, must be processed. This cannot happen again.
Mary Carole Cooney – I have found a consultant who can help with absentee ballots. There is a task force being put into place and board members can be signed onto that.
Richard Barron – We have a lot of post election duties we are working on, but we will work with other groups and the staff to mine them for their ideas to try to improve the process that we had. This electron will be a learning process for states of emergencies and all elections.
Dr. Kathleen Ruth – I want to thank our dedicated Fulton county voters and echo the comments of our staff. I have read and re-read every email from voters to the board expressing their feelings of distrust and disappointment. I was disappointed. We are resolute and ready to make better. Fulton is one of the largest counties in the nation. Larger than 8 states. In the midst of a perfect storm of dealing with Covid 19 and county wide implementation of a new voting system. My questions are about technology. You said there were 90 techs?
Richard Barron – Yes In field and in the warehouse.
Dr. Ruth – There needs to be dedicated IT people at every polling place.
Richard Barron – Some were assigned polling locations and others assigned precincts to rove. Dedicated people at larger precincts and smaller ones they roved. There is a vendor we can go through we’ll have to look at next election in November. They could provide that service to us at every polling place on election day so we can have someone dedicated to every precinct.
Dr. Kathleen Ruth – Some had problems with poll pads. Can you talk about more poll pads dedicated?
Richard Barron – Yes we can talk about that. Some polling places only wanted 10 people in at a time – CDC guidelines – and we had to follow that. We can have more available in the future.
Richard Barron – If you plug in too many BMD’s per circuit they will freeze or shimmer. These are some issues we ran into. Some locations were combined into one polling location and they drew too much power and had to move to different rooms. The idea earlier of opening up the machine kits and testing before is good, we can look at it.
Mark Wingate – I think it has become very obvious during the last 3.5 hours and through public comments there are a lot of issues. They need to work to get this election certified. WE need a comprehensive report. If we don’t do this and address the problem this will happen again and again.
Mary Carole Cooney – I have been following the webinar chat trying to respond. I would like us to gather up all of the chats, see what issues are in common and send out responses.
Review of unofficial election results.
Links included below
Next Board Meeting
Mariska Bodison – The Deadline for the meeting is Friday. If we use Zoom we need to meet earlier.
Mary Carole Cooney – If still appropriate for teleconference does the board want to meet by teleconference?
Aaron Johnson – Motion to meet Friday June 19, 2020 10:00am to certify the election.
31,780 votes Donald Trump
121.881 votes Joe Biden
14,731 votes Bernie Sanders
35264 David Purdue
96,000 – Jon Osoff – sound blanked out when saying exact number
He read off many of the winners in elections, and the sound was garbled and he was going fast. Asked in the chat for them to make this available on the website. After a time, Mary Carole Cooney asked the Board Members if they could stop reading results.
Here are the links on their website to June 9 Election Results
June 9 Election Scrolling Results
June 9 Election Summary Results.
Mary Carole Cooney – Do any members of the board desire an executive session today? No
Meeting Adjourned at 2:02pm