Fulton County makes strides in November general election, wins award


The November general election did not go off flawlessly in Fulton County this November. But compared to the past two? It was downright irreproachable.

“I feel really proud of the way the election turned out,” said Richard Barron, Fulton’s director of Elections and Registration. “As far as I’m concerned, this is the smoothest election we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

Before Barron took over the office, Fulton’s 2008 and 2012 presidential elections were, in many ways, a mess.

In 2008, election officials were still counting absentee ballots 53 hours after the end of voting.

In 2012, workers were still printing voter lists and delivering them to precincts hours after the polls had opened. Some residents were turned away because their names weren’t on the lists, while 9,575 voters were forced to cast provisional ballots.

All told, the secretary of state fielded more than 100 complaints about irregularities at polling places. The county paid fines of $180,000.

This year, in an effort to combat its reputation and improve the voting process, Fulton County expanded its early voting. It allowed residents to check online to see how long lines were at voting locations. And the county spent $20,000 to rent tablet computers for pollworkers to walk the lines on election day to ensure that voters were at the right precinct. That effort was meant to minimize the number of provisional ballots that were cast.

The changes made for an election with minimal issues.

The efforts were noticed. Earlier this month, the Center for Civic Innovation in Atlanta gave Fulton County an award for innovation in government as a result of its efforts to make voting more effective.

“It’s satisfying,” Barron said. “It shows we’ve come a long way since the previous several presidential elections.”

Here were the issues: A handful of voters have been accused of casting their ballots twice; once during early voting and again on election day. A voter advocate claimed some voters were denied provisional ballots, though Barron said the reports were unconfirmed.

And a mailer that was sent to the household of each registered voter sometimes directed voters to the wrong voting location, because of a mixup that updated addresses if residents had moved.

“The bad precinct information wasn’t because of a dysfunctional environment, it was because of a vendor,” Fulton Chairman John Eaves said. “We’re just in a much better position right now.”

And the work paid off, Barron said. The number of provisional ballots in 2016 was down 80 percent over 2012.

“I’m just happy to have it behind me,” Barron said. “We can move on from all the questions from 2012 and move forward.”


Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Georgia Politics

Democrats aim for suburbs in Alabama ahead of Deep South votes
Democrats aim for suburbs in Alabama ahead of Deep South votes

Amanda Wilson has watched with a mix of glee and uncertainty as the imposing homes along this wealthy suburban town’s zigzagging streets has suddenly sprouted Democratic signs. “I’m a blue dot in a big red state,” said Wilson, a 64-year-old retiree. “But I don’t feel as lonely anymore.” Republican U.S. Senate...
Georgia Senate meetings will be live-streamed after Thanksgiving
Georgia Senate meetings will be live-streamed after Thanksgiving

Beginning the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, Georgians who are interested in watching state senators at work can live-stream committee meetings being held in the statehouse. Members of the Georgia Senate on Friday held a mock committee meeting led by Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, to test out the new wiring and equipment....
Atlanta mayor under fire amid debate over illegal immigration
Atlanta mayor under fire amid debate over illegal immigration

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is drawing fire from multiple sides in the hot-button debate over illegal immigration after recently announcing the city had joined a nationwide effort in finding legal help for immigrants facing deportation. When Reed announced the city’s new policy this month, he called Atlanta a “welcoming city that stands up...
The Right points to Franken as a symptom of the Left’s hypocrisy
The Right points to Franken as a symptom of the Left’s hypocrisy

The Right has always questioned Franken’s qualifications for the Senate. The revelations of sexual misconduct by the Minnesota  Democrat have added fuel to the fire. A roundup of editorials Friday takes a look at the issue. From The Boston Herald: It’s “physician heal thy self” when it comes to sexual harassment in Congress...
In the light of the news about Al Franken, will the Left own its own sexual misconduct issues?
In the light of the news about Al Franken, will the Left own its own sexual misconduct issues?

Will Sen. Al Franken’s conduct call into question Democrats’ commitment to championing women who have been sexually harassed? A roundup of editorials Friday takes a look at the issue. The Week: Do the Democrats take sexual harassment seriously? We’ll see. From The New Yorker: As the two apologies from Franken show, men still need...
More Stories