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Several counties facing issues as early voting begins across Georgia

Several counties facing issues as early voting begins across Georgia
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 12:58 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - DeKalb, Cobb and Fulton Counties experienced problems out the gate as early voting began in Georgia.

For Bill Widmayer and his wife Susan, voting is a responsibility to be taken seriously.

“It’s important for us to vote, we’ve voted every election since we were eligible to vote,” Bill said.

Bill went to the Tucker library Tuesday to cast his ballot and drop his wife’s off since she’s homebound. And there’s a reason they vote as soon as possible.

“Just in case there’s something wrong, it’s important to get your stuff in very early. That way, if there’s an issue, they’ll respond within a week, you’ll get a chance to correct the issue and your vote will be counted,” Bill said.

And this go-around, Bill was right to be prepared. Redistricting in DeKalb County affected 6,700 voters and not all of them were aware.

“I didn’t notice that that had changed or that anything had changed,” said Decatur resident Janice Dotson.

Ballots were not updated. So, absentee ballots that have been mailed or dropped off will have to be re-done. At polling places, special machines were brought in just in the nick of time right before early voting started and orange signs are hanging up so that people in the five precincts affected can know.

“They publicized it as best they could in a short amount of time,” said Bill.

“I think that that’s great that you guys were so quick to change that and get everything squared away,” said Dotson.

DeKalb Voter Registration & Elections Department provided the following statement to CBS46:

Over the weekend, a voter brought to the DeKalb VRE Department’s attention a discrepancy between the precinct map approved by the General Assembly and their assigned County Commission district on the Secretary of State’s website. The Department investigated immediately and discovered that approximately 6,800 voters were affected by this issue in the Avondale High, Northlake, Rehoboth, Glennwood, and Winnona Park precincts.

In order to ensure that affected voters will be able to cast a ballot in the correct races for the General Primary, voters in the aforementioned precincts who choose to vote early in-person will do so using specially designated equipment. Each of the 14 advance voting sites will have at least one designated ballot marking device (BMD) and one designated ballot scanner to accommodate these voters. Election Day voting will not be affected.

Additionally, 99 voters in the affected precincts have already requested absentee-by-mail ballots. DeKalb VRE will immediately cancel those ballots and reissue corrected ballots to those voters. There is no additional action required on the part of voters except to submit their corrected ballots once they receive them.

“This discrepancy in precinct assignments was caused by a misalignment between the state legislative process and the Secretary of State’s redistricting timeline for county elections offices,” stated Dele Lowman Smith, Chair of DeKalb’s Board of Registration & Elections (BRE). “DeKalb VRE leadership responded urgently when they learned of this error and worked through the weekend to find a solution that will allow all affected voters to cast their ballots for the correct races in whatever manner works best for them: absentee-by-mail, advance in person voting, or at their assigned precinct on Election Day. The Board of Registration & Elections thanks the attentive citizen who brought this to our attention, and we are tremendously grateful to our employees for their commitment to serving DeKalb County voters.”

6,716 voters across the following five precincts were assigned to the incorrect County Commission district:

· Avondale High

· Northlake

· Rehoboth

· Glennwood

· Winnona Park

Voters in the affected precincts will vote on designated equipment throughout Advance voting, May 2nd through May 20th. There will be one designated ballot marking device (BMD) and one designated ballot scanner at each Advance voting location. The Advance voting site on the Emory campus (1599 Clifton Road) will have two designated BMDs available for affected voters. DeKalb VRE will cancel and reissue absentee-by-mail ballots to all affected voters who requested them prior to the discovery of this discrepancy.

Election Day voting will not be affected; however, voters may notice some differences in Election Night reporting.

FAQs

Q. When will voters receive their updated precinct cards? Will they be correct?

A. DeKalb VRE has not yet received updated precinct cards from the Secretary of State. VRE anticipates mailing the cards in time for Election Day so that voters are informed of their correct precinct and polling location. Voters who were affected by the redistricting error will receive an explanatory letter along with their corrected precinct card.

Q. If I still have questions or feel I may have been impacted by this discrepancy, how do I confirm my voter information?

A. Contact DeKalb VRE at 404.298.4020 to speak with a staff member today

Over in Cobb County, there were slightly similar issues Monday. Polling pads weren’t programmed correctly, so some people’s ballots didn’t include certain tickets they were supposed to be voting for. Election officials were notified and poll workers had to do a manual override that day and then did a programming reboot overnight so that voting machines could be correct from now on. As for the people who cast their ballot before the issue was fixed, they can’t re-do their vote.

Fulton County saw minor issues at their polling places Monday due to slow internet, but those were fixed quickly.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The above story has been adjusted to include a statement from DeKalb County outlining their efforts to make sure any voters who were impacted by the redistricting were able to cast their ballots in the correct races.