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DeKalb officials give high praise for election success

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DeKalb officials give high praise for election success

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Tangie Smith (l) and Adrian Smith text friends to remind them to vote after casting their ballots at the Clarkston First Baptist Church polling location on Nov. 3, 2020. Photo by Dean Hesse.


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By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor 

DeKalb County, GA — Pressure mounted in DeKalb County as Election Day came and went last week, and on Nov. 10 commissioners took time to thank Elections Director Erica Hamilton, her staff, and partners for a job well done. Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson, who was reelected this cycle, said the county’s elections department shined under a national spotlight.

“In the words of Ray Charles, Georgia is on my mind. It is also on the nation’s mind as Georgia has turned blue,” she said. “I was so thrilled to have our 44th president, Barack Obama, here with us to help rally for our now 46th president-elect, Joe Biden, on last Monday. I hope to see Obama and Biden here again for the runoff elections of John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. I want to remind everyone the senate majority is in our hands.”

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Commissioner Lorraine Cochran Johnson said a groundbreaking number of voters — 369,948 of 546,711 registered voters in DeKalb County — participated in last week’s election. She said although residents came out in record number, there are opportunities to vote on Dec. 1 for the late John Lewis’ seat and Jan. 5, 2021, for the Senate run-off.

Hamilton said 36 drop boxes remain across the county and are available for the December and January elections. DeKalb County plans to mail applications for absentee ballots to all active and inactive voters in DeKalb with pre-paid postage, except for voters on the rollover list (elderly, disabled and overseas).

Next for DeKalb County is the newly adopted process of a risk-limiting audit, reminded Deputy County Attorney Viviane Ernstes. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said audits give the public confidence in how the election was conducted and the accuracy of voting equipment. National Vote at Home consultant Hillary Hall, working with DeKalb County elections office for months, restated her commitment to aid in the risk-limiting audit.

“It was an extremely successful election, and it was a privilege to be a part of that and also to see the teamwork between the county and the elections department,” Hall said.

Zach Williams, COO of DeKalb County, cheered the elections office as he recognized the active engagement and insistence of commissioners. The election cycle is a sprint, not a marathon, he said.

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“If we look back 3 weeks ago, how many of us thought we would be here today? Because I think as we sit here today our heads are held a little higher, our shoulders are reared back a little bit, and we are quite frankly proud of what has taken place,” Williams said. “We understood, as the play Hamilton says, that history has its eyes on us.”

Williams acknowledged the historic nature of the election, as he pointed out, “We have broken some glass ceilings with what appears to be the election of Kamala Harris.” Naming team members from administrative assistants to director-level employees, Williams praised the unsung heroes of DeKalb County.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t [mention] Erica Hamilton. I was proud to watch her rise to the occasion. Your team delivered, commissioners, and we’re ready for another round,” he said.

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