Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has subpoenaed five current and former Fulton Registrations and Elections employees in an effort to get answers about the county's botched management of recent elections, including the Nov. 6 presidential election where thousands of Fulton voters (including those in Buckhead) were forced to cast provisional ballots.
According to news reports, Kemp said the Fulton County elections department is not cooperating with his efforts to implement changes before the upcoming mayoral elections this year.
Kemp has ordered Elections Director Sharon Mitchell, Elections Chief Dwight Brower, Registration Manager Ralph Jones and elections investigator Pamela Coleman to appear at a hearing before the State Election Board on Jan. 31. This comes just a couple days after Fulton Elections Chairman Roderick Edmond announced his resignation on Friday.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the State Elections Board "will decide whether to dismiss claims, impose sanctions or send cases to the state Attorney General’s Office for prosecution and possible fines."
The Secretary of State's office received 111 complaints about the county's management of the Nov. 6 presidential election. The complaints allege that the department's mismanagement of the election forced thousands of voters to use paper ballots and caused long lines which could have led some voters to leave and not return before casting their ballots.
On Election Day in November, Fulton County polling sites faced a slew of problems: outdated voter registration rolls, broken machines and even power outages. One polling location in south Fulton opened late because the polling managers there did not have the correct keys to unlock the voting machines.
Kemp is also seeking records showing whether 19 people received requested absentee ballots and if the county ever notified voters who used paper ballots of whether their votes were counted. He is also requesting details about the breakdown causing some registered voters to not show up in the precincts' computer systems at all.
David Walbert, attorney for the county's Registration and Elections Board, said the records are being turned over as quickly as they can be produced, but the board is having trouble meeting Kemp's deadlines.
Walbert said the requests from Kemp's office continue to change and that Kemp scheduled a hearing before the completion of the investigation because it was "politically advantageous," according to a report from the AJC.
Additionally, the Secretary of State's office is looking into department's failure to purge its rolls of voters who were registered at addresses of demolished public housing complexes, along with hundreds of voters assigned to the wrong House or Senate districts in the 2012 primaries.
“This is such an important investigation that we’re working on, that I really didn’t feel like we’re getting the information we need in a timely manner,” Kemp told the AJC. “It’s just more frustration with Fulton County. I’m sure they’ll have some good excuses as to why they couldn’t do it.”
The county's problems during the Nov. 6 presidential election were among many the county has had in recent years, including a $120,000 fine for tossing voter records in a trash bin and 2009 and the mishandling of voter absentee ballots in 2008.