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Congressman wants answers about Fulton’s elections problems

Fulton County voters wait in line to cast their ballots at the Pittman Park Community Center in Atlanta during the Georgia primary elections on June 9. Some county voters waited for hours that day to cast their ballots. A congressman is now asking Fulton County voting officials, along with their counterparts in nine other municipalities to explain why their elections were troubled., (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Fulton County voters wait in line to cast their ballots at the Pittman Park Community Center in Atlanta during the Georgia primary elections on June 9. Some county voters waited for hours that day to cast their ballots. A congressman is now asking Fulton County voting officials, along with their counterparts in nine other municipalities to explain why their elections were troubled., (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Credit: ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

The highest-ranking Republican on a U.S. House committee is demanding explanations for problems with Fulton County’s elections during Georgia’s primary last month.

U.S. Rodney Davis, a Republican from Illinois, wrote a letter to Fulton’s elections board Thursday seeking explanations for missing absentee ballots, polling place closures and inadequate staffing that led to hours-long waits for some voters in the June 9 election.

“I have identified Fulton County as one where voters are likely to face significant hurdles voting in the Nov. 3 general election, and where the risk of failure is simply too high,” wrote Davis, a member of the U.S. House Administration Committee, which has jurisdiction over elections.

Davis targeted Fulton along with nine other locations across the country where voters faced obstacles, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston.

An elections task force for the county recently recommended more precincts with better-trained staff, a tracking system for absentee ballot applications and better preparation for equipment at precincts.

Fulton Elections Board Chairwoman Mary Carole Cooney said she’s working to make improvements before the presidential election in November, when turnout across Georgia could reach a record 5 million voters.

“This is one of many letters I have received, I’m treating them all seriously,” Cooney said.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, a Republican from Illinois and the ranking member of the House Administration Committee.
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, a Republican from Illinois and the ranking member of the House Administration Committee.

Credit: Jessica Yurinko; U.S. House of Representatives Office of Photography

Credit: Jessica Yurinko; U.S. House of Representatives Office of Photography

Davis’ letter recounts many of the challenges for voters on election day.

After voters reported they applied for absentee ballots but never received them, Davis asked Fulton election officials to identify how many ballot requests were unaccounted for.

In addition, Davis requested information about how Fulton will reduce the time voters wait in line and whether it will open more voting locations.

He also questioned whether poll workers were adequately trained and asked if voters will be offered paper ballots if the county struggles to operate voting computers.

Davis gave Fulton until Aug. 14 to respond.

Read the letter from U.S. Rep. Davis