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Fulton County Registration & Elections Board Meeting 9/28/2022

September 28, 2022

Four board members present at beginning of meeting: 

Cathy Woolard (Chair),

Teresa Crawford (Vice Chair), 

Dr. Kathleen Ruth

Aaron Johnson

Mark Wingate (via Zoom)

  • Cathy Woolard: This is the rescheduled regular meeting. No changes to the agenda (unanimous).
  • Public comment:
    • Lauren Waits (Fulton Democratic Party): report on bipartisan process of getting volunteers ready for ballot duplication and vote review; our support from the absentee manager (Mike Heakin?) has been terrific
    • Earl Ferguson (registered voter): asking them to provide the option of a hand counted paper ballot for November. Dominion Voting machines have generated mistrust; concerned about false results. Not just concerned with hacking; in addition voters cannot read the QR code as required by Georgia law; machines can be pre-programmed to switch votes. Georgia requires emergency ballots to be at polling locations; he suggests that the conditions for that have been met. Use of QR code makes it so voters cannot verify their vote.
  • Approval of minutes from the last meeting: no changes, unanimous approval.
  • Monthly Operations Report for August (introduced by by Nadine Williams, Interim Dir., Registration and Elections) presented by staff for each section of report
    • Administration Division: we are recruiting for the Director position, Registration Manager, Voter Education Outreach Specialist, and Registration Officer. We are currently procuring all the goods and services for the November and December election. For special elections: all the IGA for the city of Milton, Roswell, Atlanta, East Point, and Fairburn were executed and sent for the clerks. We also prepared and submitted for the 2023 Budget, and included in that budget enhancement for an administrative position. 
      • Question by Cathy Woolard: draft budget, what’s the segmentation of the budget preparation for the county, and where’s the opportunity for us to review the draft budget proposal?
        • Nadine Williams: the 2023 budget has been drafted and we can forward that to you
        • Cathy: We’ll have questions, can you propose that to us at our next meeting in two weeks?
        • Nadine: yes, we can, we don’t have the dates for elections in 2023 so it’s just a draft, but we can present that to you. 
        • Cathy: good, we want to look at the numbers. Another board member: yes, please get that to us before the meeting so we can take a look at it.
    • Absentee Division: in August we attended a series of summer sessions with the SOS, approx 6 training sessions outlined in the packet. Aug 22 we began processing absentee requests, and we will continue to process them until October 28. There’s been a huge increase from when this packet was submitted but the applications accepted thus far is 16,052 and we’ve rejected 839. Duplicate applications are 1,152. The time frame to cure a ballot has changed: instead of being Fri, Nov 11 (now a holiday) it’s now Nov 14th, to cure absentee ballots, your provisional ballot. We will certify on November 15th.
      • Questions: Teresa Crawford (Board member): ballots are allowed to be mailed out on October 10. Will all of the applications that have been processed be mailed out on the 10th?
        • Yes
      • Teresa Crawford: Expectation of when the ballots should be received by the voter?
        • Typically 5-7 days but they’ve been getting them fairly quickly in May and June (3-4 days)
      • Teresa: How was the process of contacting voters with incomplete applications, or ones that were rejected?
        • We mandated to send them a notice within 2 days; we’ve been calling and emailing and that’s been consistent. That’s cured most of them, in most cases.
      • Teresa: the numbers you gave are current?
        • Yes, as of yesterday.
      • Cathy: Next meeting is Oct 13, at that meeting can you give us the most up to date information on numbers?
        • Yes
      • Aaron Johnson: just to be sure I understood, you said the last date to certify is the 15th. So we need to set aside time that day to certify. Or we could certify at like 6pm on the 14th.
        • Yes.
      • Cathy: we’ll let staff give us an indication of what time you prefer and we’ll get it very quickly on schedules. Let us know the best time you can think of as well as a backup. 
      • Kathleen Ruth: Where are you going to be set up for the processing of the ballots? Will you be using the same? 
        • Yes, at the EPC. 
    • Elections Division: Sample ballot is posted on the website with a link to MVP to see their exact ballot.
      Supplies and logistics: staff is preparing for advance voting and election day, and has completed all supply orders necessary.
      Recruitment and training: we are over 95% recruited for election day, filling those and working on a list of reserves.
      • Teresa: We had to handle a great number of voter challenges this year. What’s the process to handle during early vote or on election day?
        • If they come in and are challenged, they are in pending status and have to call to verify or figure out how to rectify their status or vote provisionally; flagged in the system and they’ll be able to call in to figure out how to vote. We cannot remove them, they are in pending status. 
      • Teresa: in the past the e-net has crashed several times. What are we doing to ensure we can register voters if the e-net is down?
        • For advanced voting we will have a master list of voters at every site so they’ll have a backup.
      • Teresa: if lines are unexpectedly long, any strategies?
        • Proactive, we have maximized the amount of equipment we can place at every early voting site and put enough staff. We have expanded to 36 early locations, so no lines is our hope at this point.
      • Cathy: if someone comes in and they are in pending status, do they have a direct line at the polls to the office to get that handled quickly so it doesn’t back up the lines?
        • Yes we have a call center well trained by registration to handle those calls.
    • Advance Voting: revamping advance voting training, did implement changes discussed earlier. Curriculum with separate classes for new and returning staff; enhanced hands on experience. Should be fully staffed by first day of advance voting Oct 17, and we have reached about 90% of our goal already. Overwhelming positive evaluation from new and returning attendees of these training sessions. 
      • Question, from Teresa: do you have a script for the trainers to use so they say the same thing every time?
        • Yes.
    • Information Systems Division: Dominic Olomo presents. Update on easyvote: vendor released update 29 Aug 2022, and updated the version of the application on all laptops. Outlook: all necessary staff have a Fulton County account. Poll Worker Platform: working with a new vendor for a single platform for poll worker registration approval, assessment, precinct assignment, and communication between staff and poll workers.
      Warehouse Update: Philip Lee Warehouse, will work to install surveillance for L&A process for 11/8/22 election.
      Provide audiovisual requirements for board rooms, training rooms, etc.
      Voting Equipment: system specialist at time of compiling this report, we were done with post-election procedure and any issues with those equipment they were sent to the vendors for repairs.
      • Teresa: did we have any issues with the batteries on the BMDs while you were doing the L&A?
        • No
      • Cathy: thank you, you make this sound easy, but people don’t know, in the course of the summer we had to move warehouses and stand up additional power sources to be ready for this election; incredibly challenging to do, to find an appropriate space, so thank you. Election Center: means a center where all our equipment and staff and volunteers and trainings can be at one location with more pleasant and better access. As soon as we get thru this election we’ll be moving into a complicated move but it will help us all communicate better and feel better about the work we’re doing together. 
    • Registration: Aug 31, there were 
    • 845,489 registered voters, 
    • of which 730,898 active, 
    • 114,591 inactive status. 
    • Received 29,004 applications in August.
    •  As of Sept 3rd, we needed to process 14,726. 
    • To date, only 1,000 DDS applications remaining out of the 11,512 reported;
    •  there are no online applications out of the 214 reported; there are ~1,500 paper applications that will exceed the 3,000 reported. We receive a lot of paper applications and process within 2 biz days. In August processed 29,599 address changes within Fulton County; 259 name and address changes; merged over 6,000 duplicate records. SOS sent a list of potential duplicates. Duplicates down to 123. There are some missing numbers, the system was down, that’s the stars on the paper. We hosted and attended duplicates training, made changes to ensure correct precinct and combo numbers. 
      • Mark Wingate: how many records do we have that are flagged pending?
        • We do have from the last challenges received they are all in pending status. This info wasn’t available, will be emailed to all board members.
      • Dr. Ruth: how many new registered voters do we have for 2022?
        • This info wasn’t available, will be emailed to all board members.
      • Dr Ruth: combo number, how is it going, do you have everyone in their respective precincts? Will we still have the backup of the spreadsheet?
        • I feel 100% about the combo numbers and getting correct precincts. We QC everything, double triple check. We are working with our internal GIS department, resolved 5,000 and working through 2,000 but feel confident for resolving by this election. We don’t foresee having to use a paper backup. 
      • Cathy: but the polling places will have a backup in case e-net goes down?
        • Yes, they will have a master list including the combo numbers as well. 
    • Voter Education and Outreach: continuing to work on seminars, lectures, voter reg, poll worker recruitment. Trained 29 deputy registrars in August, total of “three six hundred and sixty-three” for the year. Registered 100 voters. Recruited 255 poll workers. Held 52 events. Assisted with 60 absentee applications. Over 200 connections in terms of outreach, and 2,000 event interactions. Finished up poll worker recruitment fairs. Planning for civic holidays: Disability Voter Rights Week (9/12-9/16), national voter reg day (9/20)… a few others. 
      • Teresa: I was at voter registration and Northview HS, and it was very good, run well. 
    • Statement on data breach: on 9/21 Fulton County learned that poll worker info was inadvertently sent to an email outside Fulton County. FulCo took steps to confirm the info disclosed, and launched an investigation. People impacted have been notified by email, and will also get postal mail, and will get credit monitoring. Was payroll processing info, and will not affect the election. 
      • Teresa: When do you expect to get letters to them? 
        • The emails were yesterday, but we’ll have to figure out when the postal notice will be sent.
      • Kathleen Ruth: When will the investigation conclude?
        • I don’t know, it was an isolated incident. A particular spreadsheet. Not sure if there’s any add’l investigation needed, but cyber counsel will advise.
      • Kathleen Ruth: will there be conversations or protocols developed for staffing agencies for protecting personal identifying info?
        • It’s internal, not with staffing agencies, but we’re working with IT to put protections around that.
  • Voter Residency Challenge: Mr David Hubert submitted a challenge on July 29
    • Staff recommendation today is for the board to push off action or push off the hearing until after the Nov election mainly because we have passed the deadline for submission of the challenges, which is August 10th. So since we cannot take any action on it now, propose after the election. That would be the second Thursday in January. 
    • Cathy: Do we need a motion to postpone to January? 
      • Patrise Perkins-Hooker (outside counsel): yes, actually what you need to do is you’re postponing the hearing until the January date, we acknowledge receipt, we notify the challenger that the National Voter Registration Act precludes us from making any changes to the voter rolls in this window of time.
    • Teresa: motion to postpone to January, and notify the challenger. The motion is seconded, multiple aye (can’t tell if Kathleen Ruth said aye), none opposed. Motion carries. 
  • Cathy: we will get the missing numbers from earlier after the meeting by email to all of us. And for next month, the reports are up until the end of the month. For October, we’ll be right up against the beginning of early voting, can we get the most up-to-date numbers possible next month?
  • Wingate: as relates to challenges that we did have to forego this month, to me I don’t know that it is an absolute issue of determining removal, but I didn’t understand that that couldn’t be worked and put in the pending category.
    • Counsel: from a legal standpoint, we could have done that (moved people to Pending status after Aug 10th); however, given the workload on the staff and the fact that the board could not take any real action, it would impact their ability to vote. It doesn’t mean the staff is not looking at the challenges or that they’ll not have a recommendation in January, it just means that we did collectively have a conversation about how best to proceed with the parameters we have in place and the workload they have in place. 
  • Executive Session: Teresa makes a motion to move to executive session for personnel matters. 
  • That’s it, they won’t have anything else after executive session.
  • Motion to adjourn approved after exec session.

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