Fulton County Board of Elections Meeting 04/15/21

Attending:

Alex Wan, Chairperson 

Vernetta Keith Nuriddin, Vice Chairperson

Mark Wingate

Dr. Kathleen Ruth 

Aaron V. Johnson 

  1. Minutes approved
    1. Executive meeting 2/11/21 – approved
    2. Regular meeting 3/11/21 – approved
    3. Special meeting – 3/30/21 – amended to read litigation not personnel – approved 
  2. Public Comment
    1. Bridgette Thorne – spoke about how SB202 fixed voting issues; rant against Rick Barron; don’t need to hydrate people
    2. Ben Howard – amendments to the bylaws should be hosted on the website so community is able to see
    3. Marilyn Marks – concerned about takeover by Raffensperger; should be transparency and protect public meetings; board should act to have personal insurance policies for board members for any legal action taken
    4. Aileen Nakamura – encourage the board to obtain legal representation for when SB202 takes over; bylaws and board packet should be posted on website so public can understand what is being covered in meeting.
  3. Operations
    1. Revising early voting
    2. TSPLOST in November county wide
    3. Must ask courts to allow polls to stay open until 8PM
    4. Projected cost going up
    5. Keeping each voting location <5,000 voters
    6. Can only use 8 of 38 drop boxes inside only
      1. Figuring out best locations across the county 
    7. New hires – Johnny, Xavier and Nadine are in charge of poll worker training including reaching out to colleges for student poll workers
    8. SB202 – can’t use mobile units; will use them for voter education
    9. Voter Registration
      1. Applications dropped; asking state why number dropped
      2. 255 letters to suspected felons; if don’t hear back they will be dropped
      3. Pam Coleman leaving and moving to new position with a vendor
      4. Sent 12,080 municipalities list of voters asking for updated addresses with a May 13 deadline
      5. Sent 557 signature to SOS for signature match audit
    10. Administration
      1. Paid outstanding invoices
      2. Reconciling expenses
      3. Internal audit of expenses
    11. Personnel
      1. Deputy Director application deadline extended an additional week
      2. Education and Outreach new position – to be posted soon
      3. Positions going to commission for approval
        1. Financial Manager
        2. Voter Education
        3. IT
        4. Absentee Ballot manager (splitting from Registration)
    12. Q&A
      1. Wingate
        1. SB202 says 7AM-7PM hours election day
        2. Barron: early voting 9AM-5PM minimum; 7AM-7PM maximum; any city >300,000 election day voting 7AM-8PM; TSPLOST countywide although it hasn’t been called yet; hasn’t seen language for TSPLOST
      2. Ruth
        1. What is the length of time for the audit/assessment?
        2. Barron: RFP final sent to board; being done in phases with some before November; must be done by May 2022 Primary; will look at every process
      3. Johnson
        1. What happens to the removed drop boxes?
        2. Barron: storing for now; boxes planning to go the government center and the two annexes; 30 extra boxes may go up for auction
      4. Nuriddin
        1. Will get push back from schools to have security contract
          1. Barron: looking for schools to make election day a teacher workday
        2. Want the board consulted as to where the inside drop boxes are placed
          1. With 38 boxes 90% voters were within three miles 
          2. Consult with stakeholders in community for best locations
          3. Each commission will have a box
        3. Barron: each municipality was sent three packets with timelines, cost and language for ballots
      5. Wan
        1. Why the double the number of voters?
          1. Barron: much higher than normal because of the increase in absentee ballots or may be clerical error; never seen it doubled before
        2. Number of changes to absentee ballot; when will it be implemented?
          1. Barron: could be a three-month process; once BOE approves will go quickly
  1. Post-Election Assessment
    1. Will track progress going forward
    2. Rick will get expanded information. i.e. who is in charge of each component; suggested they have a work session to better understand each item
    3. Wan asked about customer satisfaction
      1. 4803 total took the survey
      2. 2769 in the November election
      3. 1983 in the January Runoff election
      4. 51 in the December election
      5. Barron can get detailed surveys
      6. Ruth said it’s important for an overview with demographics
    4. Ruth: training – is it part of poll worker university; given direction; will add to 2.3
    5. Nadine: had a round table with poll workers; when get SB202 guidelines than will revamp training; should be completed in a couple of months
    6. Ruth: as revamp want to focus on a more robust evaluation to make sure getting what need
    7. Barron: more demands on poll workers; asking BOC for increase pay and training; pay is higher in adjacent counties therefore in pay competition; pay has been static; last pay increase was 2008
  1. Monthly Legal Update 
    1. Aware of litigation status
    2. Johnson: would make more sense to do in executive session
    3. Wan: list not a presentation; take to executive session
    4. Lohman wants it to go to executive session
    5. Bylaw amendment 1 
      1. Heated exchange between Wingate who is accusing Johnson of a conflict of interest and should step down from board and Johnson who defended his government position.
      2. Wan asked legal about the ethics. Legal said ethically not an issue, but recusing self when needed is advised
      3. Ruth: asked Lohman to assist in language for the amendment as to what constitutes conflict of interest.
    6. Bylaw amendment 2 
      1. Response to public comment
      2. Barron and Bodison will determine key questions to keep alive and bring to board the following month
    7. Letter to GA attorney general taken off the table and will be discussed in executive session
  2. New Business 
    1. Review of SB202 (Lohman)
      1. Absentee Ballot/Drop Boxes process most important
        1. Timeline – request, mailed, processed
        2. Voter ID or license or last four digits of SS if not ID
        3. 1 box per 100,000 registered voters
      2. Leadership
        1. Performance review
        2. Appoint others to lead department
        3. Cost county has
      3. Provisional
        1. Voter education
        2. Poll worker training
      4. Ballot Process
        1. EV – Fulton mobile units for emergency only
      5. Grants only accepted from government source; 2020 grants $20+million
    2. Costs
      1. $40,000 required for special security paper for ballots
      2. Absentee ballots mailed 25-45 days prior to election
      3. Once ballot process begins can’t stop
      4. Out of precinct provisional ballots only after 5PM
  1. Voter Education Impact
  2. Administration
  1. Operational
  2. Changes SBE
  3. Questions/comments
    1. Ruth: Voter education talking points
    2. Make sure good understanding of all parts especially absentee ballot; beginning process; what will voter habits look like after vaccines; will go to polls or continue absentee voting
    3. Wingate: political parties can help with voter education and consistency
    4. Johnson: is there litigation on the BOC? Discuss in executive session
    5. Mobile units used only if governor determines an emergency and approves; not a power outage
    6. Wan: Barron working on financial impact. When will be ready?
      1. Barron: drafted a sample 2020 fall budget; can share at next meeting
      2. Legal implications to board at executive session
    7. Ruth: concerned about cost; voter habit assessment – what practices will voters do in the future?
      1. Barron: had higher absent ballot cancellation at early voting sites because ballots mailed later – 30 days prior to election; increase EV sites to accommodate
    8. Wingate: is there an early voting list; NO
  1. Retain Outside Council
    1. Decision on firing director
    2. Going to executive session
  2. Grant
    1. Use of funds
    2. County audit
    3. BOC take action
    4. Wingate said to table

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