State tests new technology during runoff election to help things go smoother in November

State tests new technology during runoff election to help things go smoother in November

ATLANTA — Tuesday’s runoff election appears to have been a success with few problems. But that could be because runoff elections traditionally draw a very low turnout.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray spoke exclusively with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger about how the runoff election was going. He told Gray that just because Tuesday’s election appeared to be going well, that doesn’t mean there won’t be issues in November.

Raffensperger said his office was using Tuesday’s election to pilot some new monitoring technology they are going to roll out statewide for the general and Gray got a look at it.

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The new technology was used in five counties on Tuesday, including Fulton. It shows real-time wait times at polling places and any technical or equipment problems as they happen.

“Where we can see those bottlenecks, but also, if anything happens, we’ll have instant notification of where that is, where the tech is, how long it will take him to get there. We’ll have quick responses,” Raffensperger said.

Very few problems were reported across the state Tuesday, but precincts did not have to be ready for a large number of voters.

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“A smooth runoff election does not mean we are going to see a smooth general election in November?” Gray asked Raffensperger.

“That’s why we are focused on several different aspects. One of those is poll worker recruitment. Our goal is for 5,000 new poll workers. We’ve already sent a list of 3,000 new poll workers to the counties,” Raffensperger said.

One of the big problems in June’s primary was polling places with many precincts jammed in.

Raffensperger said his office is working with counties to limit the size of polling locations.

Just Monday, the state election board voted to allow the secretary of state to create a new absentee web portal he said will be ready by the end of the month where everyone in every county can go to request a ballot.

“It really reduces errors, streamlines processes and takes a lot of burden off the counties,” Raffensperger said.

One place that did see issues with the polls was at the Buckhead Library. Some voters ended up with provisional ballots when the machines would not work and a technician on site couldn’t fix them.

The county told Channel 2′s Sophia Choi that it needed a manufacturer’s technician to fix the problem but there was only one for the entire metro area, so it took about 45 minutes before the issue was fixed.

“That’s something we’re going to be looking at going forward, because there’s only one,” said Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts.

Voters also resorted to provisional ballots at Warren T. Jackson Elementary School when the machines would not work.

The technician assigned to this site never showed up.

A county employee finally got them to work by plugging them in.

“The voting, polling places that I went to, there were no lines,” said Fulton County elections chair Mary Carole Cooney.

County officials called Tuesday’s runoff election a test run for November.

William Scaljon told Choi he had no problems voting today in Fulton County but is already thinking about November.

“This may be the most important election the United States has ever had,” Scaljon said.

Elections officials said many people voted absentee. Those ballots are being counted at State Farm Arena.

Pitts said just like we saw during the primary, the mail is running late with voters complaining about missing and late ballots.

“If we don’t get it right now, we certainly won’t get it right in November,” Pitts said.

For the most part, Fulton County said this election ran smoothly. They get one more test, before November.

The special election for the late Rep. John Lewis’ District 5 seat happens in September.

No issues reported at polling places