Turnout was low at the Grove Park Recreation Center precinct, where two voter check-in computers were stolen the night before an Atlanta school board election on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. MARK NIESSE / MARK.NIESSE@AJC.COM

Election security investigation opened after Atlanta computers stolen

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger opened an investigation Wednesday into Fulton County’s election security procedures after two voting check-in computers were stolen from an Atlanta precinct.

“It is unacceptable that bad actors entered a polling location under the cover of night and were able to steal critical elections machinery,” Raffensperger said.

Atlanta police are also investigating the theft of the express poll computers from the Grove Park Recreation Center, which occurred the night before Tuesday’s special election for a seat on the city school board. New computers were brought in before polls opened Tuesday morning.

Richard Barron, Fulton’s director of registration and elections, said the county will be reviewing its procedures, but poll workers did what they were supposed to do.

“Other than providing 24-hour security at all polling locations, I’m unsure how you secure every building,” he said. “Ours was in a government facility that had an alarm and was locked.”

The computers contained names, addresses, birthdates and driver’s license information for Georgia’s 7 million registered voters.

Police have said someone broke into the precinct, ransacked a kitchen and took food items along with the election computers. The computers haven’t been recovered.

The computers were part of Georgia’s 17-year-old voting system, which is scheduled to be replaced in time for next year’s presidential primary. The new voting system will check in voters with iPad tablets that have the ability to be tracked and remotely erased.

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