DeKalb elections manager blamed for 95 previously omitted ballots

Dekalb election workers sort presidential ballots in Stonecrest Saturday, November 14, 2020. Steve Schaefer for The Atlanta Journal-Constiution
Dekalb election workers sort presidential ballots in Stonecrest Saturday, November 14, 2020. Steve Schaefer for The Atlanta Journal-Constiution

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

A now-former employee’s “negligent failure to follow protocol” resulted in several dozen ballots being omitted from DeKalb County’s original vote counts for the Nov. 3 election, officials said Friday.

The DeKalb elections board re-certified the county’s results for the second time in as many days Friday morning, adding 59 absentee ballots that were previously omitted. A similar vote on Thursday afternoon added 36 previously omitted absentees.

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In a statement read aloud during Friday morning’s meeting and later provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, elections board chairman Sam Tillman said the same elections manager was responsible for both mishaps and was no longer employed by the county. The manager, whose identity was not revealed, “failed to follow our established protocols and blatantly disregarded the required processes we utilize to account for and record all legal and verified ballots,” Tillman said.

He said the issues were “in no way reflective of our collective efforts to maintain the highest standards for election safety, security and transparency.”

Around 373,000 DeKalb voters cast ballots in the Nov. 3 election, with the overwhelmingly majority supporting Democrat Joe Biden for president. A breakdown of the previously omitted ballots was not immediately available.

Georgia was scheduled to certify its statewide election results on Friday, a day after wrapping up a hand recount of the presidential race that officials said confirmed Biden’s Peach State victory over Donald Trump.

FULL STATEMENT OF DEKALB ELECTIONS BOARD CHAIRMAN SAM TILLMAN:

“It has come to our attention that a DeKalb VRE manager, who is now a former employee, failed to follow our established protocols and blatantly disregarded the required processes we utilize to account for and record all legal and verified ballots. According to our internal review, this is the same person that made the human error in failing to follow protocols which caused our previous recertification. Since the employee’s departure, management’s corrective actions and reviews ultimately yielded 59 additional ballots that were omitted from our count.

All of our internal reviews indicate that these two omissions were primarily caused by a single employee’s negligent failure to follow protocol and are in no way reflective of our collective efforts to maintain the highest standards for election safety, security and transparency. We immediately notified the Georgia Secretary of State upon discovery of this error and look forward to officially certifying the November 3rd General Election results.

The voters of DeKalb did their part in casting their ballots this election cycle and we refuse to allow the reckless acts of one irresponsible former employee to discredit this entire election and the votes of more than 373,000 DeKalb County residents. To protect against this type of human error, we continue to closely monitor all activity in this election cycle, stressing strict compliance with protocols to ensure the integrity of this process and implementing all appropriate corrective action as necessary, including personnel matters.”

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