It’s becoming an expectation in Georgia that whenever there is an election, there will be voting mistakes and registration problems. Sec. of State Brian Kemp, who is responsible for Georgia’s elections, notoriously leaked voters’ social security numbers and personal information as well as prevented some Georgians from registering to vote in the 2016 presidential election. Keeping up with the embarrassing standards set by Kemp, Fulton County experienced widespread preventable voting issues during the District 6 Special Election this week.
The Fulton County voting issues started on the last day of early voting. Internet access went down at a few polling places and poll workers had to verify voters over the phone. Some voters waited as long as three hours to cast their votes.
The issue caused Candice Broce, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office, to criticize Richard Barron, the director of Fulton Elections and Registration, who then said Broce was misinformed about the issue. This just reinforces one fact about Sec. Kemp — he always refuses to accept any accountability for voting problems, even though overseeing elections is one of the top responsibilities of Georgia’s secretary of state.
On the day of the Special Election, Fulton County experienced another voting issue, shutting down its electronic voting system for an hour. Although the voting machines are completely electronic, this issue was caused by human error: someone put a memory card in the wrong basket. It took an hour to find the misplaced card, although the cards are color-coded for exactly that reason.
Mistakes happen. But under Sec. Kemp’s lack of leadership, mistakes in Georgia’s elections process have become the norm in Georgia. Voting rights are too sacred to allow a politician’s incompetence to impede them. In one of the worst examples of trying to “fail upwards,” Kemp has thrown his hat into the ring for the 2018 governor’s race.
Additionally, at least one Fulton voter has reported voting for Ossoff, only to see Handel’s name selected, a problem which took at least three poll workers to correct.
Fulton, specifically, has been plagued by these issues since a batch of voter registrations were thrown away in a dumpster in 2007. Kemp’s office is always quick to blame Fulton’s Director of Elections, but the person holding that position has changed over the past ten years. It’s more likely that the culture of haphazardly approaching elections and voter registration, which starts at Kemp’s office, is pervading localities in Georgia.