Fulton County Updates on Early Voting in August Runoff During 07/09/20 Meeting

Meeting Highlights:

  • Fulton County received 28,563 voter registration applications in June, the highest number for June in Fulton history, 
  • Elections Director Richard Barron presents Monthly Operations Report, which gives updates on early voting for August runoff election. Updates cover poll worker recruitment and training, machine logistics, number of polling locations, and dropboxes.  
  • State Farm Arena is set to be an early voting location for August runoff. The arena will have 100 voting machines, free parking for all voters, three on-site technicians, and 197 staff members.  

Board Members:

  • Chair: Mary Carole Cooney
  • Vice Chair: Mark Wingate
  • Verneth Nuriddin 
  • Kathleen Ruth PH.D.
  • Aaron Johnson
  • Regina Waller

Public:

  • Aileen Nakamura
  • Rhonda J Martin
  • Garland Favorito
  • Bea Brown
  • Cindy Battles

Notes from Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections Meeting 7-9-2020 10:00 am

  • Notes from this meeting were taken by an attendee. For more information, contact Fulton BOE at 404-612-4000.

Public Comments

  • Aileen Nakamura (public comment): Calls for absentee ballot use and hand marked ballots to keep voters checking in, even when poll pads fail or lines get long.
    • The easy solution is to provide updated paperpoll book backups in every polling place. Hand marked paper ballots would help out drastically with social distancing issues, electrical capability issues and reduce the number of workers needed.
  • Rhonda Martin (public comment): Voter and Coalition for Good Governance Board Member is worried about voting machine use and could lead to the same type of election problems and is not as effective (explains that 12 minutes per voter is not enough with cleaning, reviewing ballot, and etc.).
    • Given this, the maximum election day turnout that could be supported in Fulton County is 24% of registered voters (if every voting machine is in a polling place and there are no machine breakdowns and every machine is in constant use throughout the day). This is far less than than the general election day turnout % experienced in recent history
  • Garland Favorito (public comment): Fulton resident and founder of Voter GA 
  • Five unreported problems with ballot marking devices during June 9 
  • Not 1 election day or early voter was allowed to cast a verifiable vote
  • No races were audited and most will never be audited 
  • Any recounts will be invalid because of State procedures 
  • Mail in ballot team in five counties found a statewide defect to fail votes and should have been counted in results 
  • Voters are forced to cast vote on an unsecure system (has been banned in Texas and Colorado) 
  • GA’s voting system has not fixed any problems and there is a need for a more secure system in Fulton 
  • Bea Brown (public comment): Intern for Coalition for Good Governance 
  • There was a lack of privacy for voters on June 9. The screens were too close and too large and faced inwards (everyone could see each other’s vote)- 6 inches away 
  • Public observer in some Fulton locations: CT Martin notes that glass windows allowed people to see votes and many other situations. What about plans for ballot secrecy.
  • Cindy Battles: Curious to hear how you intend to staff for Hawks arena and if they have enough poll workers considering early voting is in two days.
  • Shea Roberts: The Dominion voting machines violate ballot secrecy virtually every time        they are used. The oversized tablets stand upright with large bright screens that make it possible for anyone within 30 feet of the screen to see how you voted. The GA constitution and GA law guarantees absolute ballot secrecy.

Monthly Operations Report led by Richard Barron 

  • June 9th: 164 polling locations with 10 min ballot marking devices, 9:00 pm extension, 100,000+ ballots on Election Day 
  • May 18 early voting went from 5 to 8 locations (more than 30,000 vote early) 
  • Contacted after June 9th for locations later this year and offered to pay for building decontamination 
  • Started preparing for August 11 with internal working group and the county manager, chairman Pitts, and their teams to determine ways to better use data and improve processes 
  • We have been training for early voting since last week and will begin election day training today 
  • Before training, hired individuals that have done training before and to review materials and improve the materials 
  • Incorporate customer service training for August election 
  • 19 locations for August election that will begin July 20-August 7 (all in person training) 
  • Added component for drills in processing voters in timely manner 
  • Working with State Farm Arena to create the best early voting site in the county and for November there will be 200 BMDs and ADA entrances for check in for older voters 
  • August: State Farm Arena is giving 197 staff for early voting (line managers, parking lot, support, building ops, cleaning during voting and after each night, IT staff, security staff) 
  • Will begin early voting equipment delivery Monday 
  • Completed risk limiting audit with Voting Works and Secretary of State’s Office on June 28 (completed after June 9) 
  • The plan is to do the same in November
  • Received 138,455 voter registration applications, 28,563 in June (highest number for June in Fulton history), 815,939 voters as of July 1, 770,179 are active and 45,760 are inactive 
  • 44,143 applications to process as of July 1 (numbers are down as of today), should be done with timely applications in 2 ½ weeks, mailed 205 letters to suspected felons 
  • Approved scanning of absentee ballots by Secretary of State 
  • Will be using 20 drop boxes and will pick up every 3 days depending on demand 
  • Exploring voter education and how to educate public (working with department of external affairs) 
  • Working on a video for those that request ballot applications and how to fill it out.

Questions 

  • Aaron Johnson: What are we doing for poll workers? Lots want to work and groups have come asking to help. 
  • Says people are not getting responses and sign up (no confirmation and no response back) 
  • Rick Barron has assigned a team to get these processed and are getting a lot, so they are trying to get through them (can get individual names to the top of the list) 
  • Barron has requested for more scanners and Fulton will buy them if necessary and wants higher quality ones that are different (Colorado representative says they are far better), waiting for state response 
  • Aaron Johnson: Recommends that absentee ballots are picked up everyday from drop boxes for security and concern that state did not get it (foreseen due to ballot operations in June) 
  • Aaron Johnson: When in South Service Center, you could see in the hallway and see two rooms over and see people’s vote because of the large touch screen (privacy issue)
  • Barron: Company creating machines has created sneeze guards that will cover and act as an extension behind voters 
  • Kathleen Ruth: What are the data sources? 
  • Barron: Will be using precinct voter information and will be using it to keep track of line lengths, waiting times, and voter turnout numbers 
  • Will also look into absentee ballot turnout numbers from past election 
  • Vice Chairperson Election: Mark Wingate to Vernetta Nurridin 
  • AJ Jain: Has offered to help the county and represents the Citizens Task Force 
  • 12 page list of recommendations sent to the board 
  • Split the group into subcommittees: communications, equipment technology, facilities/logistics, personnel, and absentee ballots
  • Senses fear and concern from citizens 
  • Partnership with APS to have schools be precincts in the election and received an email last night from APS agreeing to provide schools as facilities 
  • Provides recommendations to the board to implement during election 
  • Will have special meeting to approve polling locations
  • Aaron Johnson and Dr. Kathleen Ruth: Working together to create a plan from recommendations 
  • Motion made to have Mr. Barron start working with recommendations

August 11 Preparations: 

  • Absentee by mail: Sometime early next week, will mail a postcard that will encourage voters to vote early or by mail (will have instructions that will detail how to get an application and apply) 
  • Will be able to track all mail to make sure everyone gets mail 
  • Developing an online portal for absentee ballot applications and app for voters to use specific to Fulton and has spoken with Vote at Home director (similar to Kentucky) 
  • Will have center facility to process applications and mail them out (space offered by State Farm Arena) 
  • Early Voting Locations: Will have 11 more locations for August than June (19 in total) and 1 outreach site at Palmetto Library for week 3
  • State Farm will be a megasite 
  • Will have on site technicians and will be trained on Monday 
  • Recruiting additional early voting staff to anticipate people that will get sick or drop out 
  • Election Day: Recruiting internally for workers that will be sent out to sites 
  • Looking at numbers needed, will recruit extra workers
  • Will deliver lunches to all places on Election Day to provide meals to those working (August and November)
  • Next steps: Selection of polling site locations (will have more in August than June), 174 or 175 locations for August (10 to 11 more than June), November (have 5,000 voter limit for each precinct) and get more locations), putting teams to process provisional voters 
  • Begin mailing out absentee ballots on Monday 7/13/20 and will send a confirmation message 
  • Technicians will be trained Monday for August and poll pads are being updated state-wide, so training will be moved to Monday 

Questions about August 11 Preparations: 

  • Clarification on number of poll workers (that we have as of today for August)
  • Rick will send to board (equipment allocation for poll workers) and current numbers for precincts as of today 
  • The State Farm Arena will have 100 voting machines (BMDs) in the August election in order to test what November will look like
  • The State Farm Arena will offer free parking for all voters and Marta will reopen the CNN Center station
  • We will have 1 on-site tech at each polling location and 3 at State Farm Arena
  • On election day at 3:00 am, an on-site tech worker and a poll official at each location will get all the equipment set up and running before the polls open at 7am
  • South Fulton Democrats: Issues for setting up polls, provided suggestions for polling 

Polling Place Changes: On the 20th, the Board will meet to officially approve changes 

For August: Below are the following changes (November will have more changes) 

174-175 locations for August 

*reports and all literature will be posted on fultonelections.com by tonight  

Meeting Adjourned


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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