Karli Swift (At Large) Chair
Vasu Abhiraman (D) Vice Chair
Anthony Lewis (R)
Susan Motter (D)
Nancy Jester (R)
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Liz Throop: A social media post by a local party leader says DeKalb voter data shows individuals voting multiple times, though this is false based on Throop’s own research. Poll workers shouldn’t have to be aligned with political parties.
Veronica Sciacca: discusses why Alice Wright is bringing a voter challenge on her behalf and is assured the issue will be discussed later.
Janet Grant, poll manager in Clarkston: Hubs make poll setup easy for poll workers. Her poll worker training stressed non-partisanship as part of the job.
Gail Lee: DeKalb GOP head Marci McCarthy would like a recount because of an excess number of ballots discovered in the original count.
Karen Davenport: Recent challenges have been meritless, and the BRE should focus on other business.
Bill Anderson, a database manager: Challenges have been attempts to make elections credible. He claims dead voters have been on the roll for years and some have voted. He says others want “the government to handle it.” He counters, “Let us help.”
Stephanie Ali, New Georgia Project: Ali says a challenge against one of the accused was already completed in 2022. People should do their civic duty well, but they shouldn’t waste the BRE’s time ahead of a runoff. She cautions we shouldn’t confuse mistakes in the voter database with fraud.
Karen McCown, poll manager: Says challenges divert resources from general election administration. Says that the election office should track how many hours they spend on challenges.
Elizabeth Shackleford (online submission): She has reviewed the rolls and found mistakes, but most of the challenged people never vote. She sees correcting the mistakes as a low priority.
APPROVAL OF 10/12/23 AND 10/25/23 MEETING MINUTES
Approved 5 – 0
ITEMS FOR DECISION
A. Certification of the November 7, 2023 General Municipal/Special Election
Director Smith gives an overview of the election. Assures the public that the office does logic and accuracy testing per SOS guidance. After elections, they routinely reconcile their records, including an internal audit or canvass. Distinguishes between “voter credit,” which is issued from Poll Pads, and “ballots cast,” which are issued when ballots are scanned or otherwise submitted. The office has done spot checks of ballot images and has compared totals with numbers on tally sheets. Discrepancies are investigated in an internal audit. Smith details other procedures that give her confidence that the Summary Report is accurate.
Turnout was 13.79%, with Dunwoody Library and Memorial Drive being the most popular Advance Voting locations. There were 191 precincts and 174 polling places. She thinks hubs make things easy. DeKalb displayed a QR code at polling places so that voters could take an online survey: 250 of 324 participants said voting was “extremely easy” or “easy” to vote.
Jester moves they certify. She then said some ballots were 2 pages long, and Director Smith agrees this may have caused overcounts in some precincts, but nothing indicates anybody voted twice. Jester suggests that maybe there were discrepancies because the voter credits in the Poll Pads didn’t match the counts per GARViS.
Director Smith says that updates to some BMDs took place during early voting “for various reasons,” and that the updates took place at the precincts where the equipment was for Advance voting. Jester notes that the L and A (logic & accuracy testing) for these machines were not publicly noticed, meaning there was no public oversight, and that it needs to be fixed. Jester worries that new problems can be introduced when one part of the software gets fixed. She wants to know how many machines were affected. Director Smith said the office did keep records of these updates, and Attorney Bennett Ryan says they will get details.
Lewis and others discuss whether the vote total of 69,709 votes is accurate. Staff member Jay Catherwood describes how voter data should sync with ePulse, and that data should sync with “the state’s system,” but that didn’t always happen at the beginning of the election. Catherwood says some discrepancies are due to the two-page ballot, which was due to the extremely long question on the ballot. Some voters scanned just one page of the two-page ballot.
Chair Swift calls the vote, and certification passes 3 to 2, with Jester and Lewis voting against. She then calls for a recess so BRE members can sign certification papers.
B. Challenges Brought by Alice Wright
1. Rachel Meir
2. Avraham Poupko
3. Esther Poupko
4. Sara Poupko
They reconvene and challenger Alice Wright says the four people registered at Ms. Sciatta’s house have not lived there since the Sciattas bought it in 1985. Two of them registered in 2012 and two in 2020. They receive election-related mail and jury summonses at the Sciatta’s home. Records don’t indicate that they vote, yet they are still listed as active voters.
Discussion ensues and it’s determined that Mr. Poupko lived in the house until 1983 or 1984, and that – as a UOCAVA voter, he’s entitled to remain registered at that address because he’s a US citizen living
overseas. His family members can also remain registered at that address. They can remain active voters if they do things such as requesting Absentee Ballots, regardless of whether they in fact cast votes. One of the challenged, Rachel Reay Ben Meir, may have been removed from the rolls at a previous time.
=Motter: says homeowner Sciacca tried to challenge these voters in 2022 based on residency, but the challenge failed. Ms. Wright responds she is just now researching these voters. Nevertheless, Ms. Wright does not withdraw her challenge, and Jester moves to sustain challenge.
Challenge fails 3 to 2.
C. Advance Voting Times and Locations | December Runoff
See page 45 of information packet. Approved 5 to 0.
D. Poll Worker Application
Jester and Swift discuss when a question about applicants’ political affiliations was put on DeKalb’s poll worker application form. It’s noted other metro counties do not ask this question. Jester said she was ok with leaving the question off for the future but wants the data from the past applications with all the information including party affiliation. Motter worries that workers’ political affiliation, if collected, could be leaked to the public. She worries such a question could chill recruitment and retention of poll workers.
Motion to remove the question approved 5 to 0.
E. 2024 Meeting Calendar
Page 58 of the information packet lists proposed meeting dates for 2024.
Motion to accept the schedule approved 5 to 0.
Director Keisha Smith: A candidate did request a recount in one race, but they didn’t meet the threshold for an automatic recount.
Director Smith suggests the December 11 meeting be moved to 9am because GAVREO conference was scheduled on the day the BRE needs to meet to certify the runoff.
Motion to accept the meeting time approved 5 to 0.
Chair Swift invites State Representative Saira Draper, who is in the audience, to make remarks. Lewis objects this is not on the agenda, but Chair Swift counters that it is. Rep. Draper says that DeKalb has provided an accurate account of the election and that two BRE members voting against certification, without clear explanations, is extreme and extraordinarily disappointing.
Lewis says he has the right to vote any way he wants.
Jester mentions problems with the District 2 DeKalb BOCC race from 2022 and says she can’t trust the current election due to some of the Ballot Marking Devices being updated mid-election. She again mentions that the L and A testing was not properly noticed and therefore there was no public oversight. She mentions that computer security expert Dr. Alex Halderman has said Georgia’s L and A testing is not robust enough.
Additionally, she quotes a poll worker who said, “We had difference between Poll Pads and EPulse and GARViS that data wasn’t always flowing (correctly.)” Jester then adds that, like Lewis, she can vote however she wants.