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Dear Decaturish – Hand count in District 2 race doesn’t alleviate concerns

campaign coverage Decatur Metro ATL

Dear Decaturish – Hand count in District 2 race doesn’t alleviate concerns

A voter shows their sticker and stylus after casting a ballot at the Decatur Recreation Center on Tuesday, Nov. 2, Election Day. Photo by Dean Hesse.

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Dear Decaturish,

Let me begin by saying that the DeKalb Elections Board is correct in insisting that the hand count of the ballots in the District 2 Commission race be complete, audited, and accurately published. It is nice to see the Board working to get this right without regard to party. I applaud the sentiment and the intent. Unfortunately, the preliminary results published yesterday evening have done little to alleviate concerns about the ballot or the tabulation machines and now the veracity of the hand count itself.

No one has yet to explain why the tabulation worked as it should have in eleven precincts but not in the other 29 where one candidate received zero votes.

No one has explained how a candidate who withdrew from the race was removed from some precinct machines but not all. Mr. Broussard was an active candidate in four precincts, He did not appear in several precincts and was apparently rendered inactive in others. He also apparently appeared as a candidate on some early voting machines, but not all.

I am deeply concerned that some voters saw four names on the ballot and others saw three names. Where you voted and when you voted determined the field of candidates. That is not right, and it is not a tabulation issue. The VRE effectively ran two different elections for the same race. That all voters did not have the same choices does grievous harm to the election process and merits consideration of voiding the results and starting over. Every voter in District 2 should have had an identical ballot.

Why did Tabulation Machines work two different ways?  Why did the Voting Machines on Election Day provide what would appear to be three distinct ballots? The evidence certainly suggests that VRE staff inappropriately touched some (but not all) of the “sealed” devices that were “Ready for Election Day.” I see process gaps. I see errors. I see a lack of vigorous testing. I see a lack of an audit trail. What I see borders on criminality under the Georgia elections statutes.

At this point, I am not sure if we can even trust the paper that each of us printed out and fed into the tabulator matched how we actually voted. Are you? Have you even asked the obvious question? The damage done here to the election process is immense. The credibility of VRE is lost. The lack of transparency and I believe honesty of VRE staff should haunt the Elections Board.

I am concerned that the board is so willing to give Executive Director Keisha Smith a “mulligan” because it is her first election as VRE Director. That’s nuts….she and her staff must fully account for their actions. If you certify this election, the artifacts and evidence will be sealed and wind up in some warehouse, and you will be able to chalk this fiasco up to “lessons learned.” That must not happen. You must do more. You must fix the issues that have led us here. A failure to do so is a dereliction of duty.

Anything less than the independent audit, and anything less than an honest assessment of staff and appropriate action taken, is irresponsible. Papering over  the malfeasance you all know exists only feeds the false narrative that urban election results cannot be trusted and invites the state to take over the VRE. Do the right thing! Ask a judge to void the District 2 County Commission election.

– Steve Perkins, District 2 Voter.

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