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Cobb County Board of Elections Meeting 3/18/2024

Meeting date: Monday, March 18, 2024

  1. Public Comment

Sally Riddle- Thanked board for all the early voting.  Also noted that early voting for the May Election will land on Mother’s Day. It’s a nice happenstance and encouraged families to go out and vote together.

Ben Williams- Reminded of 1965 and The Voting Rights Act.  Is concerned about mobilizing voters and is asking for a 3rd Sunday of voting.

Mary Miller- concerned about limited amount of polling places and time constraints.  Hopes the board can expand voting hours.

Bob Maynard- Candidates were told they couldn’t run by courts.  Concerns about map and disagree with circuit court.  *Personal note:  there are two current maps for upcoming elections in dispute.  Not fully sure which candidates, but I do think it’s referring to the Home Rule map in question.  The court case is Floam v. Cobb BOE, digging through both cases to confirm*

Boyd Parks- Concerned about his absentee ballot arriving late.  Suggested tracking for ballots.  At the Ackworth Precinct scanners had scanned +3 ballots than physically received.  Countywide there were 8,000 extra ballots.  He is also hosting voter seminar.

Chianti Franklin- Asking them not to take away Sunday voting.  Her church even has “Souls to the Polls”.  Important to black community.

Dream Willis- another request to not eliminate Sunday voting

Kami Sanchez- Poll watcher, observed that turnout was light.  Voters were upset that ballots were not updated to eligible candidates.  People also got upset about poll location changing.  After talking to local polling place, it’s not financially viable for most places to volunteer.  The stipend of $50 does not cover water or electricity used at this time.

Donald Barth- takes issue with the terms DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion).  He has concerns over the map, deciding who is disenfranchised or eligible.  Jerika Richards (Commissioner) gets to keep her seat because of it.  *Note: Barth’s candidacy to run for the seat (same party as Richards, Democrat) was rejected under Cobb County BOE’s “Home Rule” map noted in Floam v. Cobb BOE lawsuit.

Christine Rosman- Pollworker, reports Sundays were “dead” and the county didn’t need to expand voting on Sundays.  According to Rosman it’s a waste of time and energy.  SOS website has very confusing maps. *Note: referring to not only state commission maps, but also a new school board map listed in lawsuit Finn v. Cobb BOE.  Both State drawn maps from 2022 and school board maps are in flux while races are expected to commence in May.*

Mike Bins- Poll watcher. Half day schedules were great for poll watchers.  Polling places did seem overstated and over capacity. The county should stay open on Sunday.

Gabriel Sanchez-Son of Colombian immigrants, running for state house.  Works on voting rights.  Requesting that they not cut any early voting days.  Voting is important and we should treat it as such.

2. Approval of meeting minutes

Steven Bruning requested the removal of incomplete sentence from Old Business in the meeting minutes.  Approved unanimously.

Meeting Minutes approved unanimously.

3. New Business

Director’s Update. (Director: Tate Fall)

75 incorrectly issued ballots were supposed to be Democratic and was caused by human error.  A new checklist that requires two signatures has been approved and will be implemented to avoid repeat incidents.  Issue was discovered on 02/26/2024 and correct ballots were issued.

Poll pad and boot screen issues did occur.  However, the SOS office had a war room of software/hardware experts were helpful in resolving issues in real time.

Cobb County BOE is going to highlight precincts names for voters to self-check ballots instead of showing the ballots (and selections) to poll workers.

Will need to budget better for Risk Limited Audits (one occurred on Wednesday, March 20, 2024, will update any information.)

Discussed precinct card issues mentioned in public comment.  State office sends out white ballots while Cobb County sends out Yellow cards to each voter before election (examples included with report).  State cards were inaccurate due to pulling information on January 5, 2024 before map issue had a court ruling.  However, Cobb County’s date was more accurate to the executed plans and was subsequently mailed out.  Director Tate Fall has petitioned the SOS office to inform them when they pull voter data into future to offset potential issues in May as map issues are resolved.

It took the USPS longer than 3 days to send out postcards and some didn’t get them at all.  Absentee ballots were also late. Director is talking to local USPS branch on how to resolve issues.

Redistricting should done by the end of March.  The information wasn’t exactly clear which redistricting was bring referred to.  Going to review court timeline to figure out.  Will update with a follow up when more information is given.

Director does refer to current school board mapnupdatei before redistricting.  Still trying to understand references.

Soldier overseas ballots for May election will be sent futon time (April 6, 2024)

*Director slideshow has been submitted along with meeting notes.*

Election Results

Total votes: 64, 109. GOP & Democratic votes did not equal votes received.

665 blank ballots.  Being resolved with Hand Check and Risk Limiting Audit.

Questions from Board

Tori Silas asked what was the basis of ballot rejection.  Tate Fall will confirm manually, but mostly seemed to be missing or inaccurate information.

Tori Silas sked about when SOS cards came into Cobb County Elections Office and how long it took to catch issue.  They caught about 4,000 wrong cards.

Silas (Board Chair) and Fall do meet bi-weekly.

Cobb has split precincts and has ballot readers to determine each voter has their correct precinct ballot.

Cobb does use Dominion machines.

Machines cannot discern between undervotes and blank ballots.  Have to be hand checked.

SOS office manages the system so any changes go through them as far as programming machines.

Steven Bruning asked about redistricting and the updating mailed precinct cards.  Tate Fall confirmed with SOS office about what data they will be using.

Debbie Fisher asked about Risk Limiting Audit and how the lottery system was crafted.  Tate Fall confirmed it is set in code and compared to a hand audit.

SOS cards were also asked about and they typically announce only when precincts have been changed. Fisher thinks voters should be not only informed, but changes should be explained.

She also asked about blank ballot count accuracy vs. risk audit.

Primary Vote Approval

Votes for Presidential Primary have been approved unanimously.

Board Member Comments

Debbie Fisher commended Tate Fall on her even handedness and transparency during her first election.  (Hired in December 2023 after controversies.)

Meeting Adjourned.

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