Lackluster leadership and internal disarray caused Fulton County to mismanage last year’s presidential election, according to a report obtained exclusively by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The county’s Registration and Elections Office kept the document hidden from the public for the past month in what may have been a violation of the state’s open records law. After the elections board’s private attorneys refused to release it, Commission Chairman John Eaves obtained it and gave it to the AJC.
Because of constant turnover in the elections director’s position and bad decisions by the last department chief, the office lacked a proper hierarchy of command and failed to adequately prepare for a major countywide polling operation, the report by hired consultant Gary Smith says.
Such deficiencies led Fulton to have more voters using paper ballots than the rest of the state combined. The high number of people voting provisionally, because poll workers couldn’t find their names on the rolls, created ballot shortages and long lines that could have persuaded many residents to give up and leave without voting.
The document says the problems started with a backlog at the main office in entering voter registration data into a computer system. Because of a three-week delay in hiring temporary workers, staffers that should have been entering data were tied up answering phones.
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