Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections Meeting Inquiries 08/27/20

The August 27th meeting just ended and I have requests, as usual, along with some comments and/or questions  that I was unable to ask before adjournment: 

  • What building was referenced in the discussion regarding the bldg? an owner who wishes BOE to remain;  and Architects are working on renderings? (New Bus, Item E) Am I correct in my assumption that renovations are being considered for the existing BOE building on Pio Nono where elections are currently headquartered?
    • Yes 
  • What was the result of Chairman Kaplan’s & former Chairman Ficklin’s meeting with the County’s finance office to request reconsideration of the County’s budget allocation?
    • No additional allocations were made to the FY21 budget for the BOE
  • When an absentee ballot is tabulated, is there any way for the voter to view a copy of the results, similar to when voting in person?
    • Voters who vote in person and at the polls are able to print their voted ballot and review it prior to scanning it into the tabulator. 

Comment:  

I have no doubt that the training done by Jeanetta and her staff is comprehensive. But I also realize from  experience that some employees do not always strictly follow the training guidelines when dealing with the  public, particularly under pressure of time and long lines. I have also been told that on occasion, polling  locations ran out of provisional ballots early in the day and could not offer one to voters who needed one later  in the day because they were unable to replenish the supply in a timely manner, if at all. The poll managers are  instructed to contact the BOE as soon as possible when they begin to run low on ballots so we can get  additional ballots out to them before they run out. Elections workers are starting to experience issues which  have never reared it’s head until this day and time and we have to adapt quickly. Also, we have so many new  poll workers and shortage of workers with years of experience. After these elections are over, I’m sure next  year we will be revamping the entire process which has been difficult to do with getting new equipment and  voting in times of a worldwide pandemic. This has been a challenging year. I appreciate your interest and  willingness to become more familiar with the process. 

As a volunteer for the Peanut Gallery, I interviewed GA voters who had problems at the polls during this election  cycle (not all were in Macon-Bibb). Some of the people I interviewed were not aware that they can ask for a  provisional ballot when they are turned away for the various valid reasons. Therefore, if the poll worker did not  offer a provisional ballot and the voter did not ask for one, that voter may not have voted at all. This is especially  true when it was a matter of being at the wrong location and it was too late to make it to the correct location.  Before Gov. Kemp left office, his slogan for provisional ballots was drilled into us and we have in turned  drilled it into the poll workers “WHEN IN DOUBT GIVE IT OUT”. In 2018 there was a large northern county  who was issued a lawsuit when the voter showed up at the wrong polling location and the poll worker  immediately sent them to the provisional ballot station without offering the voter an opportunity to go to  their assigned poll. We will try some new approached to help improve this issue. The SOS has also provided  election offices with a provisional guide to handout to voters who vote a provisional ballot. I also have  provisional ballot information on our board of elections website. (See attachment) 

I was glad to hear Mr. Kaplan apologize at the end of the meeting because I was disturbed at his reaction to  another board member and past Chairman, Rev. Ficklin’s, statement of concern about the problem of  provisional ballots not being made available whenever needed. It may not be due to the training and I hope the  issue will be thoroughly investigated. If possible, the personnel that he spoke with at Bellevue should be  interviewed at length. Someone also spoke during the meeting saying that this also occurred at Northeast.  Hopefully, both allegations will be followed up and the results communicated at the next meeting of the Board.  (We will do so) 

Hiring new Poll workers in these unprecedented times is a challenge. We have many workers who have chosen not to work during the pandemic; especially those who are at higher risk and more susceptible to contracting the virus. We have had a few seasoned poll workers who have passed away. The entire state is faced with these same challenges.


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.

Become a Peanut Gallery Volunteer Monitor at our next training on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 6 pm. Sign up Here

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