Georgia state representative supports GBI investigation of DeKalb ElectionsMary Margaret Oliver, Representative for Georgia House District 82, is a co-sponsor of the mental health bill. Photo by Dean Hesse.
By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor
Decatur, GA — A local politician is voicing her opinion about DeKalb County’s hiccups during the May 24 primary.
State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) is supporting a call for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) to look into the DeKalb County Commission District 2 election – the race that sparked a hand count and the delay of certifying the election results.
A new law, Senate Bill 441, allows for the GBI to investigate voter fraud allegations. SB 441 passed the Georgia General Assembly in April, on the last day of the legislative session.
In a letter to GBI Director Vic Reynold, Oliver acknowledged that granting investigative authority to the GBI to review elections was controversial, but said she “believes the GBI is the best option for an analysis of the unique facts of the DeKalb election for County Commission District 2 that initially declared inaccurate results.”
She said the fault lies both on the Secretary of State’s office as well as the DeKalb Voter Registration and Elections Department.
Candidate Marshall Orson, who ultimately lost the District 2 primary election, requested an investigation by the GBI. Over the course of a few days, Orson went from being one of two candidates in the June 21 runoff to finishing in third place after the hand count was released.
Oliver, an attorney and 34-year Georgia politician, currently represents House District 82. She read Orson’s letter that itemizes issues and actions that he believes require investigation, and Oliver said she is in support of a GBI investigation.
The GBI investigation is the best option “because I believe it is agreed in part that errors were made by both the Secretary of State and the DeKalb election officials, an independent review is necessary,” she wrote.
Oliver said she has confidence the GBI can show “how computer [programming], technology and human errors combined to give false results in the initial machine count of votes.” She also questioned if efforts to correct mistakes were sufficient.
“The current dispute over the DeKalb Commission election is the first time I have seen real technology failures combined with human error despite ongoing allegations and accusations across the nation over intentional election fraud,” Oliver said.
We all need to learn from the failures in the election for DeKalb County Commission District 2, and be assured it will not happen again, Oliver wrote.
Here is the full letter:
Dear Director Reynold:
Thank you for talking with me this week about the GBI statutory authority to investigate elections set forth in OCGA 35-3-4(a)16 passed recently in SB 441. As I anticipated when we talked former candidate Marshall Orson has requested the GBI exercise its investigative authority to review and analyze the May 24 primary and the DeKalb County Commission District 2 election, and I have read Mr. Orson’s letter that itemizes issues and actions that he believes require investigation. I support Mr. Orson’s decision to seek a GBI investigation.
The legislative grant of investigative authority to the GBI to review elections was controversial, but I believe that GBI is the best option for an analysis of the unique facts of the DeKalb election for County Commission District 2 that initially declared inaccurate results. Because I believe it is agreed in part that errors were made by both the Secretary of State and the DeKalb election officials, an independent review is necessary. I have confidence you can find and provide the necessary expertise to understand how computer programing, technology, and human errors combined to give false results in the initial machine count of votes. The question remains, however, were the efforts to correct the acknowledged mistakes sufficient? I have participated in the political debates and arguments over voting machines and election technology for decades and the issues are very complex. The current dispute over the DeKalb Commission election is the first time I have seen real technology failures combined with human error despite ongoing allegations and accusations across the nation over intentional election fraud. Because of the uniqueness of the current DeKalb Count dispute the GBI investigation is essential to give confidence to the voters and us in the center of election politics.
Respectfully, my specific requests which are consistent with the GBI statutory authority are as follows:
1. Develop a time line that details the computer programing mistakes, inaccurate precinct assignments based on redistricting, and the responses by the Secretary of State and DeKalb election officials. Basically, who did what and when that was in error, and what was the response to correct recognized errors?
2. Were any laws or State Election Board rules violated? Is there ambiguity in any laws or rules that created problems?
3. What transparency was required and what was provided? What were either the SOS or DeKalb election officials telling the public in a timely manner as required?
4. Was there any improper influence from any elected officials?
I offer these thoughts for your consideration recognizing you have complete authority and autonomy to conduct any investigation you deem appropriate, and do not need or require my advice or input. Offering my thoughts or suggestions for your current investigation tasks is based on my deep concern for all of us to have a detailed and credible analysis and explanation of how a series of election process mistakes happened and were the mistakes ultimately corrected in a proper manner. We all need to learn from the failures in the election for DeKalb County Commission District 2, and be assured it will not happen again. Thank you.
Mary Margaret Oliver