Sec. of State investigates Fulton Co. election issues

by: Aaron Diamant Updated:

Channel 2's Mike Petchenik went to a polling station in Sandy Springs, where voters vented about long lines partially due to equipment failure.

ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has confirmed the Georgia Secretary of State's Office is now investigating major polling problems in Fulton County.
 
Across the county on Election Day, voters complained of broken machines, outages and incorrect address listings that led to a high number of provisional ballots. It’s exactly the kind of widespread problem Fulton County election leaders had hoped to avoid.

As issues first arose, Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant had considerable access to the county's election chief at the department's downtown Atlanta headquarters. However, as Diamant started getting specifics, interim elections director Sharon Mitchell stayed silent.
 
By Wednesday morning, Diamant found voters showing up at the elections office to make sure the ballots they cast on Tuesday would count.
 
"I was going to vote regardless,” said voter Bobbie Norwood. “They might have had to take me out of the building, but I was going to vote. I was determined to vote."
 
Norwood was just one of potentially thousands of Fulton County voters who were forced to fill out provisional ballots unnecessarily, because their names didn't show up on their precinct's main voter rolls, even though they registered in time.
 
"I've been registered since 1980-something," Norwood said.
 
The problem got so bad that many precincts ran out of provisional ballots and led Secretary of State Brian Kemp to launch an investigation.
 
"I'm very frustrated,” Kemp said. “I think I've been clear about that, and I think I'm not the only one."
 
On Tuesday, Mitchell called it a training issue. Poll managers inexplicably either didn't know, or didn't know how to check the supplemental voter rolls.
 
"I don't know why that we continue to have problems in Fulton, and we're not having them in other places," Kemp said.
 
Kemp is now turning up the heat on elections officials to verify and count what he calls a "historic" number of provisional ballots by the Friday deadline.
 
"We're going to continue our investigation to make sure we know exactly what happened, and if there were election rules that were violated or laws, they'll have to answer to that," Kemp said.
 
By Wednesday evening, Diamant had still not heard from Mitchell, despite his repeated attempts to set up an on-camera interview.
 
Meanwhile, Kemp said his top priority will be working with the county to make sure all the provisional ballots are properly counted and will then look long-term at how best to fix any systemic problems.



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