Cobb County Board of Elections Meeting 07/13/20

Summary:

Attendee Meeting Notes:

  • Virtual Meeting called to order shortly after 4pm 
  • Throughout the entire meeting, there were numerous issues with the host’s internet and audio outages were frequent. My notes will reflect that much information was missed and I left the meeting slightly early. 
  • Public Comment 
    • Sara (didn’t get last name) – she thanked the staff for their handling of the absentee ballots in the June election. Requests that absentee ballot applications be mailed to ALL registered voters after the August run-off in preparation for the November election. Need more drop boxes, which shouldn’t be a budget issue now that the boxes only need to be emptied every 3 days instead of nightly. Also need more early voting locations. 
    • Sharon Hill (Georgia Coalition for People’s Agenda) – need to be prepared for even more absentee ballots being processed, more drop boxes, more early voting locations. Need to send absentee ballot applications, not just to registered voters, but to eligible voters (to include individuals who will turn 18 by election day), need ample paper ballots and a better emergency process in place, need more community outreach – more information, multimedia 
    • Jacquie Bettadapur (Cobb County Dems) – was at a meeting two weeks ago between Board of Elections, Cobb Government and Legislators. Fred Akins said they would “plan for the worst and hope for the best”. Erick Allen spoke at length about what needs to happen. With COVID-19 on the rise, SOS refusing to send absentee ballot applications to all voters, and an expectation of 2.5 times as many voters in November as we had in June – a disaster in the making.
      • How are they planning to solve the personnel shortages they suffered in June? COVID isn’t going anywhere. Need ALL voting locations open for early voting for the full three weeks, from 7a-7p, on Saturdays and Sundays, too.
      • Should not split Marietta 3A/3B at this time. That precinct has multiple locations close by for early voting. Instead of wasting time doing that, focus on what they are going to do to prevent 4+ hour wait-times.
      • Only 13 weeks until November election. Need lots more action to prevent June disaster from reoccurring. 
  • End of Public Comment
  • Approved minutes from last two meetings. 
  • Janine Eveler then discussed the proposed precinct split and the other three precinct  changes. She had to go over the information twice due to the audio issues and still couldn’t hear everything.
    • Pope 01 change is due to emergency repair issues at current location. Will not be a problem in November, only for runoff election in August. 
    • Sweetwater 02 – emergency change to more permanent location, will be used through Jan. 2021 runoffs.
    • Vinings 03 – church signed contract with Cobb county, but landowner does not want the election there, so alternate location found through Jan. 2021 runoffs.
    • Marietta 3A/3B split – largest precinct with over 6000 voters. Any vote on this will be contingent on getting the contract signed by the new location. 
      • Absolute Deadline to sign contract : There is no specific deadline probably August 3 but they do have 90 days . The person we try to contact just wasnt there today so within another week hopefully .As long as the board make the motion……(audio is horrible)
  • The board then asked if there was anyone who wanted to speak during the public hearing time. No one spoke.
  • Jessica Brooks expressed concern regarding the precinct split. 
    • Jessica Questions: Because of the change in the voter registration deadline for the state and local primaries that now their aligned with the federal runoff deadline. Basically how many new and updated registration have we received since the primary and do we have a backlog?
    • Answer: The voter registration deadline for August is today and  we have about 22600 up unto this morning that’s ready to be updated  and we plan to be completed by today  in time for the electors list to be pulled. You also asked about absentee ballot application status (still going in and out )… about 48,000 of those were rollovers from elderly and disabled voters who voted in the primary and other elections this year. Then we started to mail out additional ones that we received from other voters so in total that’s 50000 so far that have gone out. (audio still going in and out).
    • Secretary of State office will not mail out applications and that’s something we are not telling voters. I think that the state has been publicizing that as well as the media. Our voters can always request a application online or by calling us. I know that there has been some discussion about the county sending out applications. We are getting a quote from a vendor to do that. I don’t have that information today.
  • Comment (not sure who made it ): I’m very concerned that voters aren’t aware that The Secretary of State (in and out )….ballot….we will have 16 all together. I am still checking on more that aren’t sending out the applications this time.
    • Janine Answer: I wouldn’t expect every election that may be just my expectation
    • Reply (from lady that made statement): I think because of Covid that was the expectation because that was the reason originally.

Note from attendee: The audio was so bad at this point, that I temporarily left the meeting (about 4:30-4:40pm), so I can only assume that all changes were approved. I will follow up to confirm. I rejoined the meeting at 4:57pm. Audio issues had not been resolved. 

  • Janine was in the midst of responding to multiple questions submitted by Jessica Brooks.
    • Deadline for registering to vote in runoff was today. As of this morning, they had 22,600 new or updated registrations to process and plan to have those done by this evening.
    • As for absentee ballots for runoff – 48,000 ballots were mailed by the state automatically for those voters over 65 or disabled.
    • Janine stated that approximately 50,000 new applications have been processed. She has requested quotes from vendors regarding cost to mail applications for absentee ballots to all voters for November election. Has not received information yet.
    • Dropboxes for Aug 11 – the 4 from June election will be in place. She ordered 12 more. Locations not set yet, because they must have video available at each location. And, video must be saved (cost of that is approx. $200,000)
    • Recruitment – she has reached out to community groups, especially those with which there is already a relationship as a polling place. Wants these groups to include a call for poll workers in their newsletters, etc. Also, plans to reach out to schools, but can’t do that until they are back in session (if they ever are).
    • New tool available for absentee ballot application – if voter fills in name and DOB, application will auto-populate remaining information. Voter can then print and sign.
    • Janine is looking to hire more tech people for the polling places. Looking to use additional (and retired) county employees for poll managers. Trying to eventually get 1 tech person per precinct.
    • Poll worker training started today for August runoff election, including intensive equipment training. Training for November election should begin in September, no dates set yet.
    • Problems last time with emergency ballots because supplies were in multiple locations, too confusing. Have now put together an Emergency Ballot Kit, including a video on how to use it, to solve that problem. 
  • Next board meeting will be on August 11, 2020 at 7pm to oversee the run-off election. 
  • Meeting adjourned at 5:16pm 

Did you know that the public can attend Board of Registration and Elections meetings? 

These meetings are open to the public by Georgia law. Georgia Open Meetings Act.

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