Fulton County Board of Elections Meeting 09/09/21

  • Approval of Agenda
    • Wingate motions to add to OB a business process review to be tabled pending state investigation. Seconded by Crawford. Set as Agenda item 5. 
    • Ruth moves to add a Call for E-splost Special Election. Seconded by Wingate. Set as agenda 6.  
  • Communications / Public response 
    • Summary: Five speakers were present at the meeting, their complaints were all similar in nature: they thought that the Fulton County election system was not transparent, and they were worried about discrepancies in the use of 
      • HappyFaces, the possible break-in at a ballot storage facility, the chain of custody around ballots, and issues participating as a poll worker. Many called out Mr. Barron by name and said that he should be replaced. 
    • (Speakers required to obtain a card, fill it out, before the meeting) 
    • Julia Adams: June 17th meeting, chair asked Barron, English st election break in, ballots held in there in connection with lawsuit. Barron said the sheriff is about to release the video and Nadine and her team are working on it. Still waiting for the video. Fulton county residents need transparency, accountability, and confidence. Where is the video? Were the ballots safe then? Are they safe now? 
    • Ms. Bouchard:Feels like the integrity of her vote has been robbed from her. I believe that we paved part of jones to give us a report, it was scathing. In part of the report he said there is no chain of custody form for ballots being moved. Very disappointed and ashamed of the way that fraud has been a part of this election. 
    • Dr. Janis Jonston: problems in participating as a poll worker in Fulton. Saying residents are applying and calling to be poll workers and not getting response. Election group consulting is hired, ACLU has real time access to E-net. Who is running the show? Chronic sign of a dysfunctional office. Time for Mr. Barron to move along and hire someone else. 
    • Naia Korston: Never received a call back to work as a poll worker. Want our votes to be counted in a fair and factual election process. Wants SB202 to take control of the Fulton County BOE the remove Richard Barron, cites a report by the county elector office as to reasons why 202 should be invoked. 
    • Bridget Thorn: Basic management 101 failures by Barron. Happy Faces. Gave dominion keys to both warehouses with ballots inside, but often saw people working for them not actively working or taking part in other actions that seemed suspicious. 
  • Old Business 
  • Approval of Minutes 
    • Wingate 11,770 voters removed from the roll effective July 28th, in conflict with the 11,712 number from earlier reports, the latter number is correct. Shamira Marshall issues correction that 11,712 were those cancelled through the NGE process, but that others were cancelled for other reasons (sum total of 11,770). Wingate moves to have that explanation be clarified into the minutes. 
      • Johnson and Wingate have a tense exchange regarding Wingate’s motion. 
    • No changes to exec session minutes 
  • ● Monthly operations report Director Richard Barron 
    • Summary: The operations report described the recruitment efforts of the Department of Elections, going over the numbers of poll workers that had been recruited, and those that had yet to be recruited. These numbers were given for the city of Atlanta and also the 13 municipalities that contract with Fulton County to run elections. One of those, Union City, is cancelling their elections this fall because every seat was uncontested. Much of the debate centered around the notices that were sent to active voters on the verge of being inactive, including descriptions of the timeline involved, and what inactive status meant for voters. Wingate asked further questions about the anecdotes that had been brought up during the public comment period, about people not receiving calls back after applying to be poll workers, which were answered by Barron and staff. 
    • Municipality completed qualifying, data forwarded to SOS, had to have things forwarded by 9/10. Proposals will reduce polling sites to 257, some were unable to serve this fall. 8 Locations for check in confirmed, trying to get one more approved by 9/10. All municipalities have been advised of early voting locations for the 11/2 election. Final proofing of the election flyer is done and it is being made. Advance voting dates are being posted per SB202. 8 assigned absentee by mail ballots. Hapeville and EPC warehouses for storing ballots, Hapeville just storage and EPC for LNA activities. Chain of Custody and covid protection guidelines being implemented. Working with WDS to conduct a mock election ahead of the real election. Poll worker recruitment numbers in the report, 39/40 dual manager filled, all 82/82 chief manager, all 204/244 assistant manager, clerk all filled, not recruiting for provisional technicians, recruiting managers for election night workers, and county providing workers for check in location. Union City is cancelling their election because they have no contested candidates. Outside the City: 33/45 dual manager positions, 69/90 chief manager, 178/270 assistant managers, 521/540 Clerk. Check in locations and advance voting: 16/24 poll managers have been assigned, 23/48 assistant managers, advance voting line monitors 24/24, 24/24 technicians, compliance officers 15/24, clerks 40/90, security all recruited. Happy Faces recruiting: election day security 160/257, will begin recruiting election day technicians and line monitors 
    • Registration division report: received 64,758 applications, 8,875 in August, 849,513 total registered voters in Fulton County, 824,319 Active, 25194 inactive, mailed 189 letters to voters who are suspected felons this month, issued 106 voter IDs. 15 permanent employees and one manager currently. 
    • SB202 quick reference guide 
    • Questions from the board
    • Crawford: Have we seen the budget? B: Brenda sending the budget to the board. C: any request for money from the commission should be run past the board first. Wingate: Director we’ve had several queries about HappyFaces. Has it worked well or not in terms of relative stats. Raised the issue of an IT test taking an hour long in the onboarding process, to streamline the process in terms of testing. W: 32,460 mailing on 8/2, breakdown of which returned, which not, who was removed from the list and why. A breakdown of what the exercise did in terms of change? 
    • Johnson: Did those 282? B: the voters who were on the list to be moved to inactive status were on the list because they did not have a current voter participation history, 282 people did answer in the affirmative that they were still active. Inactive voters are still registered to vote, and if they vote they would be moved to active. J: How many cycles before someone is considered inactive? B: Does not know, state contact said it may be about 2.5 years. 5 years is the benchmark for cancellation of registration. J: Why are we replacing the south annex and north annex? B: We need more space for tables and social distancing, that is why we relocated from South annex, North annex and Roswell City hall. Everything with happy faces had been completely recruited and they are only recruiting reserve numbers. 
    • Sharon Benjamin: Addresses Wingate’s concerns that people were not being contacted who had submitted interest. EV manager training had started 9/8/21. 
    • Wingate: 25,801 people who have not responded, on 9/12 their voter status will change to inactive by the state 
    • Discussion about the “Liaison” who would help to distribute info to voters  
    • Ms Corbitt Providing an update on the Communication Toolkit: 
      • Fulton County website got 2 million visits 
      • Summary of SB202 changes for voters 
      • Updating misinformation page 
      • Updating absentee ballot information page 
      • Changes have also been made to the FultonVotes app 
      • Voting buses changed from “Vote Here” to “Fulton Voter Information Buses” 
    • Ruth: relating to absentee ballots, flowchart says “congratulations, you’ve voted”, but it won’t be tabulated until it really counts, R asking to add information about when the vote would actually be tabulated, also should add specific examples of other forms of ID. C: did not add because the other forms are explicitly spelled out on the application for absentee. 
    • Wingate: asks if a button could be added to the FultonVotes app to direct people to BoardMeetings 
    • Crawford: Asks about adding Board minutes to app as well 
  • Business Process Review 
    • Summary: The discussion centered around the Election Departments Request For Proposal for a consultancy to offer best practice suggestions about possible issues brought up during the 2020 election, including chain of custody of ballots. Wingate, the originator of the motion, wanted to push off the approval of the RFP pending the results of the State Election Board investigation, however after discussion and input from the Department of Elections it became clear that the Board of Elections could not postpone the RFP and that they could only provide advice to the Board of Commissioners. The debate centered around whether progress was being made by the Department and whether the RFP should go forward. The section culminated in a split vote by the Board which failed, and the RFP is going forward to the Board of Commissioners, likely at the October session. 
    • Wingate: my position is that this is table for now, based on the fact that there are outstanding issues with the Board Of Commissioners that have not been concluded. The State Election Board panel is doing some kind of investigation. Before further review of the business process the other things should be seen first because the scope of the review would change. 
    • Crawford: Tabling this is admitting defeat. With or without a takeover the review needs to happen for the voters. 
    • Johnson: Is the State Election Board the same thing the Business review is? They sound different? We don’t know the timeline of the SEB, they don’t even have a timeline listed. The department can figure out how to get through best practices regardless of the investigation of the SEB. 
    • Ruth: RFP County objectives first two to three objectives we have already achieved because a number of task forces have been convened to provide recommendations. 
    • Barron: Worked with the county manager on the RFP and have completed things since then. Only thing listed as completed is “investigate options for outsourcing poll worker pay”. 
    • Wingate: suggests that they don’t have enough information to continue the Business Process Review at this time, and that it should be tabled ○ Crawford: Can the RFP be rewritten? Barron: It can but changing the RFP scope would require looking for a new vendor 
    • Wingate: does the Board have to provide a vote on the RFP to move it forward to the BOC? B: No, the board does not. Approval of a contract binding the county is the role of the BOC. 
    • Johnson: Why is the SOS office issuing the review panel for Fulton County election department if we have done everything we were supposed to do, which pushes him in the direction of the department needing to do everything to stand up on its own. 
    • Ruth: Not sure if the board has power to make a motion on the RFP contract, my stance is that the RFP needs to have some changes. As it reads now it doesn’t get the job done. 
    • Johnson: What is the RFP asking for? B: The company is coming in as an objective reviewer, looking at processes and procedures and then, in accordance with Georgia code, making recommendations on best practices that they’ve seen across the country. J: the audit talked about what they saw, and the RFP provides recommendations and an outline of what the department can do to fix the deficiency 
    • Crawford: look under 3.4 project deliverables, says that all recommendations should be specific and measurable to be able to show changes, the auditor is just pointing out things. Thinks that it is beneficial for the department to move forward 
    • Wingate: My motion to table this is moot. B: the BOC has asked for a recommendation from the Board re the RFP, so the board needs to make a determination and have someone to speak to the BOC 
    • Johnson: the longer the department holds off on making improvements, the more it gives fodder to people who would criticize it. 
    • Wingate: Since the issuing of the RFP has the department made progress on any item that’s in the RFP? The scope that’s in that document is not necessarily the same. B: I think we would leave the scope of work the same, there may be some timelines that will be shortened or eliminated. 
    • Wingate: the original vendor chosen for the contract backed out? B: Gartner was chosen but pulled out after the spectre of GBI investigation was raised after the 2020 election. 
    • If the RFP is not voted on at the next BOC meeting then it will have to be voted on in October 
    • Johnson: motion to move forward with the process, second by Crawford 
    • Ruth: Roll call vote 
      • Wingate: No 
      • Ruth: No 
      • Crawford: Yes 
      • Johnson: Yes 
      • A tie leads the motion to fail, but it still moves forward to the BOC 
  • E-splost Special Election 
    • Notice given that a special election shall be held in Fulton for submitting questions to voters: whether or not a special 1% sales and use tax shall be imposed on all sales and uses on July 1st 2022, to raise funds to be expended for educational purposes. 
    • Passed unanimously 
  • NewBusiness 
    • Summary: In this portion of the meeting the proposed changes were briefly described by an official of the department of elections, giving the precinct that would be affected as well as the reason for the change. The board had no discussion of the changes, and voted to unanimously approve the changes. 
    • Approval of polling place changes 
      • 25.21 – precinct 10 D1 Harper Archer Elementary 
        • Due to safety concerns return precinct to CT Martin Recreation Center ○ 26.21 – precinct 10 P Harper Archer Elementary School 
        • Student safety concerns, relocate to Jackson Memorial Baptist Church ○ 27.21 – Precinct SE16A and SE33, Sandtown Park Recreation Center
        • Advised by South Fulton that center is undergoing renovations, relocate to Sandtown Middle School 
    • 28.21 – SE08C Gladys Denard South Fulton Library 
      • `Brought to attention that proximity is not close to voter residences, relocate to Welcome All Recreation Center 
    • Changes were advertised in Legal Organ 
    • No discussion, Johnson motions to approve, seconded by Crawford. Passed unanimously 
  • GAVREO update 
    • Georgia Association of Voter Registration and Election Officials (GAVREO) Conference 
    • Held in Jekyll Island in August, conference provided an overview of SB202 and list maintenance as well as the new Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) 
    • Bannon: Department nominated by Cobb County for the Phoenix Award, unanimous vote by other counties for Fulton to win award. 
    • Discussion about redistricting and list maintenance at the conference ○ Crawford and Ruth attended. 
  • Motion to Adjourn 
    • NOTES: 
    • Kathleen Ruth X 
    • Aaron Johnson (Not There initially, arrived within 2 minutes of start) Mark Wingate X 
    • Teresa Crawford X 
    • (Vacant Chairman position) 
    • Start postponed due to lack of quorum

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