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DeKalb Elections Board certifies results of Senate runoff

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DeKalb Elections Board certifies results of Senate runoff

Vote signs at the Decatur Recreation Center on Nov. 8, 2022. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

DeKalb County, GA — The DeKalb County Elections Board, at its Dec. 12 meeting, unanimously certified the results of the Dec. 6 runoff election between Sen. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker.

DeKalb County saw record turnout during the runoff election. On Election Day, 103,263 ballots were cast, 153,745 voters cast votes during advanced voting, and the county received 16,082 absentee by-mail ballots.

Over 576,000 voters are registered in DeKalb County, and 510,262 were in active status. There were 4,464 new additions to voter rolls through new registrations and transfers. Regarding deletions, 2,835 registrations were deleted due to being canceled or transferred out of the county.

“We had record turnout again. Some days, we even ran the state in terms of voters processed,” DeKalb Elections Director Keisha Smith said. “The number of ballots cast was 273,308. The overall turnout was 53.56% of the active voters.”

During advanced voting, the VRE office on Memorial Drive averaged 3,750 voters per day and South DeKalb averaged 2,008 voters per day.

“The total advanced turnout was the seventh highest in DeKalb history,” Smith said. “The quick turnaround for the runoff only allowed one week of advanced voting, and this resulted in far more traffic per day than any previous election.”

The short turnaround of the runoff election required the processing of about 1,836 returned absentee ballots per day.

The county received 16,082 absentee ballots. There was a total of 91 provisional ballots, of which 33 were cured. There were also 107 rejected absentee ballots, of which 14 were cured. Ballots were rejected due to missing signatures or IDs or an invalid signature or ID.

On Election Day, the county accepted 281 provisional ballots and rejected 115. The ballots were rejected due to voters voting out of the precinct, voter registration was in question, or a voter didn’t have identification.

“The most that were rejected were out of precinct before 5,” Smith said.

Provisional ballots have changed due to Senate Bill 202 that changed Georgia’s voting laws. If a voter tries to vote at a different precinct other than their assigned polling place, their vote will not count unless it is after 5 p.m. on Election Day.

Elections Board Chair Dele Lowman-Smith said that during election cycles, the counties are doing work, and they should be supported by the state.

“We need the support from the General Assembly and from the Secretary of State so that we are not having to run ourselves ragged in order to do the people’s business,” Lowman-Smith said. “It is ridiculous that we have to fight against the people who are supposed to support us in order to enable our citizens to exercise their rightful opportunity to participate in this democracy. We have had hurdle after hurdle placed in front of us from the beginning of the year until the runoff to try to make this process as accessible and efficient as possible. We have dealt with, quite frankly, administrative failures at the state level that no one asks the state about.”

The counties don’t select the software or equipment used, they don’t program the machines at the statewide level, but when something goes wrong, people look to the county.

“There needs to be shared accountability for carrying off these elections,” she said. “I look forward to the opportunity for my colleagues and I to get together and talk about the unnecessary hurdles that were created through SB 202. Just because there was enthusiasm and turnout does not mean there were not people who did not get a chance to vote.”

Lowman-Smith added that voters shouldn’t have to fight and stand in line for hours.

“We should not be creating conditions unnecessarily where that has to happen,” she said.

She also hopes the state will fund these election efforts of the counties.

“It should not be dependent upon whether each county can scrounge up enough tax dollars to be able to run an efficient election, to pay our staff adequately and fairly, to pay our poll workers, it shouldn’t be dependent upon that,” Lowman-Smith said. “The state dictates it, and they need to fund it.”

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