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Whitfield County Board of Elections Meeting 7/14/22

Members present: Sparky Kelehear (Chair), Carol Byers, Rob Cowan (attending remotely)
Registrar: Mary Hammontree
Old Business

  1. M. Hammontree reported they are completing the moving of a polling place in the Antioch
    precinct. She said they will post signs about the change at the old and new locations, run
    newspaper adds, and put a notice on Facebook. New precinct cards will be mailed. The change
    takes effect in November.
  2. Hammontree reported they have completed remodeling their offices to provide a secure
    location for the equipment.
    New Business
  3. Voter challenges—Hammontree reported an organization called Look Ahead America notified
    them that six voters are registered at a business. Her staff confirmed the report and flagged the
    six voters. They sent letters to the voters with a change of address card. If they do not change
    their addresses, they will be issued provisional ballots in November.
  4. Post-election registrations and changes—Hammontree said there have been over 1,800 new
    registrations and address changes since the last election.
  5. Budget—Hammontree said they had a preliminary budget that includes a mobile unit for a
    polling location. The unit will be shared with the drivers license bureau.
  6. November election information—Hammontree passed out a sheet with key dates for the fall
    election (absentee ballot deadlines, sample ballot posted, etc.) She said it will be sent to the
    newspaper, posted on social media, put on posters, and posted the county’s website.
    About a dozen persons attended the meeting (normally only one or two attend). Most of them
    appeared to be with the local Tea Party organization. Several people spoke on what they consider are
    problems with using voting machines.
    The main points they made were:
  7. They do not trust the voting machines. While paper ballots are printed, the scanners read QR
    codes. They cited a recent DeKalb County recount where a candidate gained 4,000 votes after a
    hand count.
    Hammontree cited code sections 21-2-334 and 21-2-366, which require paper ballots and allow
    for scanning. She said the DeKalb County problem occurred because a candidate withdrew after
    the ballots were printed and a technician made an error in updating the program. She said she
    and a technician on her staff load the voting machines in Whitfield County rather than relying on
    a Dominion technician.
    Hammontree also said the cost of hand counting would be prohibitive. It would cost about
    $100,00 to hand count the ballots in Whitfield County.
  8. Responding to a statement by S. Kelehear that the machines are not connected to the internet
    and thus are secure, a person said that they can be compromised with algorithms. He and
    others pointed to issues found in Lamar and Ware Counties.
  9. One person noted that a former Whitfield County employee has said the elections were better
    run before the advent machines and hand counting was not a problem. Another person said all
    European elections are hand counted.
    Board member C. Byers said she started working for the elections office in 1976. They used
    machines then. They did hand count absentee ballots on election day, which for some elections
    took all night.
  10. Another person suggested they stress test the machines. He urged they run two systems at the
    same time and not tell Dominion.
    A member of the Whitfield Democratic Committee spoke. She said a few people are trying to stir
    discord. She commended the elections office and staff for their work. She cited a couple of sources
    that said machine counting is more accurate than hand counting because machines are not political.
    They not only eliminate human error, they eliminate bias that may emerge when judgement calls
    have to be made.
    S. Kelehear closed the meeting by saying they did not pick Dominion and they are not thrilled with the
    QR codes. But they can only deal with problems found in Whitfield County. If they become aware of a
    problem, they will investigate. However, they are not aware of any at this time

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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