An unknown number of voters throughout metro Atlanta have received ballots with missing or incorrect local races, including a Fulton County commissioner running for reelection.
Elections leaders from Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties said that some voters were given inaccurate ballots during the first week of early voting. Most of the problems were caused by voters being assigned to the wrong areas after redistricting.
Fulton appeared to have the most issues Wednesday, after Cobb and DeKalb said they had resolved discrepancies.
Fulton Commissioner Marvin Arrington, Jr. was surprised when he went to vote for himself Monday only to find his name missing from the ballot.
“I am more than extremely frustrated by this,” said Arrington, a Democrat representing part of south Fulton, during a Wednesday meeting of the Fulton County Commission. “The secretary of state is interfering with the integrity of the election by … maintaining a database with wrong information.”
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said counties are responsible for ensuring that voters have accurate districts.
“Fulton’s attempt to pass the buck is just a continued disservice to their voters,” Raffensperger said Wednesday. “Their attempt to blame state systems is disproven by the fact that other counties, with less people and less resources, aren’t having these issues while using the same systems. Instead of fixing issues, Fulton points fingers, and their voters suffer.”
In Cobb, Elections Director Janine Eveler said that poll workers had to manually pull up the correct ballots on voting machines because voter information hadn’t been updated on equipment provided by a vendor for the secretary of state’s office. Replacement equipment was installed by Tuesday morning.
Commissioner Liz Hausmann, a Republican who represents part of North Fulton, said she had heard similar reports but cautioned Arrington against the “pretty serious allegation” he had made.
Chairman Robb Pitts said he wanted to talk about the topic in executive session, despite no active litigation on the topic.
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
The secretary of state’s office confirmed that it had identified 8,764 Fulton voters who were potentially assigned to incorrect districts as of Thursday. By comparison, there were 2,878 voter records flagged for possible inaccuracies in Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties combined.
The number has been shrinking since then as county election officials have been verifying district information.
One such official, Fulton’s interim elections director Nadine Williams, said the number was originally 28,000 voters.
“We’re kind of working in the unknown,” she told the AJC.
The early indication of the problem is that redistricting caused a mad rush to get people assigned to the correct district and commission races. The secretary of state’s office said it is entirely the county’s responsibility to assign voters to correct districts.
Williams said that, as soon as the problem was reported, she notified all the poll managers and put in place measures to make sure voters knew how to double-check their ballots.
Every facet of elections, even the operations of voting, have become partisan — with Democrats like Arrington suspicious of the Republican-led state government that has chastised the county for sloppy elections management.