Posted: 7:40 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Recent Fulton elections troubles
2008: A backlog in processing absentee ballots has Fulton workers in a warehouse counting ballots for 53 hours after the presidential election ends. Crews twice go home in exhaustion, in violation of state rules requiring them to finish the count first.
2009: Fulton is fined $120,000 — believed to be the highest fine ever levied by the State Elections Board — mostly for dumping more than 100,000 voter records, some containing private information, in a trash bin at Atlanta Technical College in 2007.
2011: Elections Director Barry Garner, viewed as making major improvements in the department, resigns. He had admitted to inappropriate conduct in a sexual harassment investigation, according to an internal county document.
July 2012: Tripped up by statewide redistricting, the department under Director Sam Westmoreland puts 690 voters in Sandy Springs and southeast Atlanta into the wrong state Senate and state House races in the primary.
September 2012: Westmoreland resigns while jailed for failing to follow sentencing terms from two DUI convictions involving prescription drugs. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation later revealed the elections board used a flawed process to hire Westmoreland, who falsified parts of his work history.
November 2012: Fulton has more people using paper ballots than the entire rest of the state combined. Because of problems entering registration data into a computer system, poll workers can’t find many voters’ names on the rolls. The Secretary of State’s Office receives 111 complaints about Fulton, far more than any other county in the state. Poll managers said the main office was still delivering lists of eligible voters hours after polls opened.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s reporters have scrutinized problems with Fulton County’s elections process for months, analyzing stacks of data and interviewing experts, poll workers and voters. In today’s article, Fulton County interim Elections Director Sharon Mitchell addresses troubling documents revealed at last week’s State Elections Board hearing.
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