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State board punishes Fulton County for election problems
by Everett Catts
November 30, 2012 05:51 PM | 3584 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The State Election Board during its meeting in downtown Atlanta Tuesday reprimanded Fulton County for twice mailing 226 residents incorrect absentee ballots during the 2010 gubernatorial election.

The board also punished the county for hand-delivering an absentee ballot to a man after he said he did not get one, which is against state elections laws.

Fulton evaded fines or prosecution by the Georgia attorney general’s office on all nine charges dating to 2010, most of which involved complaints of people not getting absentee ballots by mail. Seven charges were dismissed by the board.

Regarding the other two charges, the board, chaired by Secretary of State Brian Kemp, decided to send letters of instruction, official warnings stating the county violated state rules, with orders for fixing problems, said Chris Perlera, Kemp’s deputy press secretary. By going that route, the board decided not to send the cases to the attorney general, which could mean more serious punishment for Fulton.

The board also voted to send a different Fulton case on to the attorney general’s office for further investigation, an allegation the county did not move fast enough to remove a felon from the voter rolls in 2011.

In a news release, the board announced it will meet Jan. 30 to address Fulton’s problems during this year’s elections.

“The integrity of our elections is of the utmost importance,” Kemp said in a statement. “I look forward to making progress as we address the unfortunate events during Fulton’s 2012 elections.”

Robert Walbert, an attorney representing the county at the meeting, said Friday the first issue occurred due to a computer glitch.

“Some absentee ballots were sent out on an auto-generator because of a problem in our software that was not discovered originally,” he said. “The man was given the [absentee] ballot because of an inquiry by him from the secretary of state’s office.”

Regarding the other accusations against Fulton, Walbert said, “Many of the charges had no basis of fact.”

When asked about the charge regarding the felon being removed from the voter rolls too slowly in 2011, he said, “It is our position was that it was completely timely response.”

As for all the charges against Fulton, Walbert said some were unsubstantiated.

“You get a lot of complaints, but not a lot really went wrong,” he said. “There were virtually no irregularities. None of it had an impact on how people voted.”
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