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DeKalb Elections Board votes 3-2 to certify Nov. 7 election; Republican members vote ‘no’

campaign coverage DeKalb County

DeKalb Elections Board votes 3-2 to certify Nov. 7 election; Republican members vote ‘no’

A voter sports a Georgia voter sticker after casting a ballot in Avondale Estates on Nov. 8, 2022. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

This story has been updated.

DeKalb County, GA — The DeKalb Board of Registration and Elections on Nov. 14 voted 3-2 to certify the Nov. 7, 2023 municipal election.

The vote was split along party lines, with Republican members of the board Nancy Jester and Anthony Lewis voting against certification.

Democratic District 90 State Rep. Saira Draper attended the meeting and addressed the Republican members of the board saying, “I am utterly disappointed by the fact that two members of this board did not vote to certify this election…there has been no explanation for why they would take such an extreme step.”

“The result of voting not to certify the election means that you do not have trust in our process. We see what you are doing here…and it is extraordinarily disappointing,” Draper said. 

Both board members responded to Rep. Draper during their allotted time in board comments. 

Board member Lewis said, “I’m not sure what Rep. Draper means when she says, ‘I know what you’re trying to do.’ I have no idea what that means.”

Lewis continued saying the purpose of the Elections Board iss to, “to try to make sure that everyone in the county is being represented and to think that everyone in the county is going to think along the same lines is incorrect…so to expect this panel which is representative of those people to speak the same on every issue I just think is incorrect.”

Board member Jester’s perspective was that the failure to ensure public participation in the second round of Logic & Accuracy tests performed on machines that needed to be repaired after they had been deployed, represented a fundamental procedural failure that affected the quality of the results enough for her to vote against certifying them. 

“No one should shame me for voting my conscience,” said Jester. 

In other news:

— The board rejected a voter challenge brought by Alice Wright. This was a challenge to the residency status of four individuals, none of whom were in attendance at the meeting. The four challenged voters are registered to vote at an address on Biltmore Drive. 

Three of the voters share the same last name, and the Elections Board’s records indicate that they now live in Israel.

They are eligible to vote under The Uniformed And Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act passed in 1986. Under this act, explained board member Vasu Abhiraman, “Overseas citizens may use the address where they lived immediately prior to leaving the United States… Even if the voter no longer owns the property, the voter’s intent to return to the state is uncertain and the voter’s address is no longer recognizable as a residential address.” 

There was less discussion on the fourth person. DeKalb Board of Registrations and Elections Executive director Keisha Smith said that the person had been removed but the Secretary of State’s office directed DeKalb County to put them back into the voter roll in 2019. 

None of these people, based on the information brought by the challenger and the board, have ever voted. 

There was some disagreement over whether these specific individuals had their residency status challenged before.

Board member Susan Motter pointed out that all four in fact had been in a previous challenge made by Robert Smith in July 2022.  A member of the same family being discussed at the Nov. 14 Elections Board meeting was included in that challenge, along with the four voters being challenged at the Nov. 14 meeting. 

In DeKalb, the cities of Brookhaven, Doraville and Stonecrest will have run-off elections from Nov 27 to Dec. 5. There will also be a runoff for Atlanta Board of Education seat 7 at-large.  The last day to request an absentee ballot is Nov. 24. Advance voting will be from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, with election day on Dec.5. Locations for advanced voting are: 

— Bessie Branham Recreation Center 2051 Delano Drive NE, Atlanta, GA 30317

— North DeKalb Senior Center 3393 Malone Drive, Chamblee, GA 30341 

— Lynwood Recreation Center 3360 Osborne Road, NE Atlanta, GA 30319

— DeKalb Voter Registration & Elections Office 4380 Memorial Drive, Decatur, GA 30032 

— Stonecrest (Former Sam’s Club Building) 2994 Turner Hill Road, Lithonia, GA 30038 

The board also voted unanimously to direct the executive director to remove a question from the DeKalb Poll Worker application that asks about political affiliation. 

While the council was aligned on the fact that the question was odd and that data should be collected on how the question has been answered, there was some debate about how this data should be made public. 

Elections Board member Motter said, “Poll Workers being doxed is what I am afraid of quite honestly, I don’t mind us having the data…but it is a really hard time right now being a poll worker so chilling our recruitment and retention efforts is always a concern of mine.”

Department staff is in the process of collecting data that has been collected from the question in the past. This process was temporarily put on pause during the election.

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