Henry elections official facing accuracy concerns after ballot errors

Henry County elections leader taking steps to improve ballot accuracy.

Henry County elections leader taking steps to improve ballot accuracy.

A Henry County elections official under fire for errors on ballots in recent referendums says her office is taking steps to improve accuracy for future voting.

Henry County Elections & Voter Registration Executive Director Ameika Banks said she plans to beef up the number of people who proofread ballots before they are finalized and will include those same workers in qualifying candidates so that they know who is running for office.

She said city clerks with Henry’s four municipalities also will be asked to proofread the ballots to add extra protections against mistakes.

The Elections & Voters Registration office was criticized recently after it left the race for Henry County chair off sample ballots for the May 21 primary. It follows an issue from early voting last year in October when residents were incorrectly given the option of voting for only one candidate in a multiple person race in Hampton. They were supposed to pick three.

In an attempt to correct the Hampton error, the election of a councilperson for District 2 in the city of Stockbridge was put on a separate ballot, causing further headaches.

“I want to apologize,” Banks told the Henry County Commission on Tuesday about the failure to include the chair race on the sample ballot. “I want to do that publicly.”

Early voting for the May primary begins Monday and Banks said the ballots are correct and will include the race for county chair. Henry, the second-fastest growing county in metro Atlanta, has almost 194,500 registered voters.

Some commissioners remained skeptical that Banks was doing enough to avoid future mistakes.

Commissioner Kevin Lewis said what he didn’t hear from Banks was a plan to check ballot accuracy up to the day before residents go to the polls. He also was disappointed that the office didn’t know enough about individual races to catch errors, including when a mistake is submitted by elections officials from municipalities within Henry County.

Banks has said the Hampton error had come from officials with the small south Henry hamlet.

“It concerns me that we don’t have this stuff right before election time,” he said. ‘I don’t want to see Henry County on the local news, the national news, any news. I want voters to have confidence that when they step to the polls ... they know they’re going to have the correct ballot in front of them.”

Henry Commission Chairwoman Carlotta Harrell, who is running for reelection against Marion Calhoun and former Henry Commissioner Vivian Thomas, said the elections office dropped the ball.

“You got a list of races that are supposed to be on the ballot,” Harrell said. “That should have been caught because you know what races are up in the gubernatorial, presidential, and even in the municipal (contests).”