Nov 13, 2018 Decatur: DeKalb County Elections Board members Samuel Tillman (from left), Anthony Lewis, Erica Hamilton, Voter Registration and Elections Director, and Baoky Vu along with other board members vote unanimously to certify it's election results at the DeKalb County Elections office on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, in Decatur. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

DeKalb voters complain of election issues as county certifies votes

In less than 30 minutes Tuesday afternoon, the DeKalb County Elections Board certified its midterm election results, touted their hard work and listened to questions and complaints from residents about the election process.

But hours after the meeting, a “technical glitch” prevented the certified numbers from being posted to the county’s elections website, DeKalb spokesman Andrew Cauthen said Tuesday evening. The “glitch” was not affecting the results, only the posting, he said.

The board met to certify the results at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, but no updates had been posted on the county site as of 7:30 p.m.

The Secretary of State’s website reported updated numbers on its website for DeKalb at 6:54 p.m. Tuesday.

In an emailed elections summary, DeKalb reported 313,643 ballots cast in the midterm election, a turnout rate of about 63.4 percent.

DeKalb officials rejected 1,375 of the 3,147 provisional ballots cast, Cauthen reported in an email late Tuesday. Most were thrown out because voters were registered in a different county or weren’t registered at all, he said.

Prior to the board’s afternoon meeting, county election officials recounted 19,000 absentee ballots early Tuesday morning. The recount, which began at 8:30 a.m., lasted until 2:30 p.m., two hours after they had hoped to finish. 

About 30 voters attending the board’s open-shut certification meeting. Some questioned why absentee ballots needed to be recounted and how to ensure their provisional ballots were counted during the public comment portion of the meeting. 

One voter, Emily Johnson, said she filed a complaint with the elections board about inaccessibility issues and alleged mistreatment by DeKalb election board chairman Samuel Tillman when she was early voting. Johnson said she suffers from medical issues that affect her joints and ability to stand.


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Johnson said she stood at least 30 minutes at the DeKalb Elections Office on Memorial Drive on Nov. 2 when her legs began to give out. Johnson said she requested a wheelchair and was told there were only two available at the time. She eventually received a wheelchair to use while voting, but said difficulties arose when she wanted to file a complaint. 

Johnson alleged Tillman screamed at her twice when she asked about filing a complaint, accused her of not having a disability and attempted to prevent her from filing a complaint against him and the board. 

Nov 13, 2018 Decatur: Samuel Tillman is the first to sign his name after the DeKalb County Elections Board voted unanimously to certify it's election results at the DeKalb County Elections office on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, in Decatur. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Tillman, who responded through a county spokesman, said he hadn’t seen the complaint and therefore, could not comment on the allegations. 

Johnson’s complaint is part of a myriad of issues voters said they experienced this midterm election season, most of which centered on absentee ballots.

Several voters complained of not receiving requested absentee ballots, receiving them late or being told they had already voted. Two weeks before Election Day the state Democratic party alleged that 4,700 voters in the county had not received requested absentee ballots. At the time, state and county officials said there was no evidence of missing or lost ballot requests.


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