DeKalb, meanwhile, was spending Friday setting up operations at the former Sam’s Club store on Turner Hill Drive in Stonecrest, where it plans to start counting at 7 a.m. Saturday. Officials said the facility — which was used as an early voting site ahead of last week’s election — provides more space and allows for better social distancing than would be possible at the county’s elections office off Memorial Drive.
DeKalb’s cost estimates for the recount include about $147,000 to pay workers; about $20,000 to supply them with food and beverages; and about $12,000 for personal protective equipment and other COVID-19 related precautions.
DeKalb plans to run a total of 300 workers in two eight-hour shifts each day. During each shift, 75 pairs of poll workers will sort and count presidential ballots.
In a Friday afternoon virtual press conference, DeKalb’s district health director outlined safety protocols that will be in place when the counting starts.
Dr. Sandra Ford said all workers will be equipped with masks, gloves and face shields. Anyone coming into the building will have their temperature checked and surgical-grade masks will be required (and provided to those who need one). Homemade masks won’t cut it.
Health department staff will be on-hand throughout process to monitor and enforce protocols, Ford said.
“I am of course concerned about the pandemic and the current surges that we’re seeing,” Ford said. “That’s why we’re going to be physically in place to make sure that the practices are optimal to minimize the risk of anybody contracting COVID.”
The DeKalb County Department of Public Safety will be on-site to secure the facility 24 hours a day, officials said. Public safety director Jack Lumpkin said Friday that law enforcement in constantly monitoring for potential problems and will be prepared should anything arise -- but that he doesn’t expect it to.
“We’ve been fortunate in DeKalb County with our relationship with our citizens and visitors, and have not experienced the challenges that some communities have,” Lumpkin said.
With another task tacked on to what’s already been a grueling election cycle, DeKalb was trying to keep morale up too. T-shirts bearing the slogan “Count on DeKalb County” were being distributed to workers.
Elections director Erica Hamilton said her folks “may be a little bit tired” but were enthusiastic.
“With the staff behind me and the people I have working with me in DeKalb County, I’m more than confident we’ll be able to get this done,” she said.
In addition to designated on-site locations for public observers, poll monitors and the media, officials were working Friday to set up a live online stream of the count.