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2012 election complaints investigated

POSTED: March 19, 2014 4:00 a.m.

Dawson County election officials are confident the Secretary of State's office will find no merit in complaints a resident filed in 2012.

"We do everything we can to be open and above board," said Glenda Ferguson, elections supervisor.

According to Ferguson, Sam Wadsworth of Dawsonville filed post-election complaints alleging violations in the election process.

The first complaint addressed legal notification regarding the use of direct recording electronic units, while the second focused on whether those units were secured and sealed properly during advanced voting.

Calls to Wadsworth's home for comment were not returned earlier this week.

On March 11, Ferguson answered to the allegations during an interview with an investigator with the Secretary of State's office.

On Monday, she told the local election board that she was confident he was satisfied with the information provided.

"We were able to satisfy, from what I understand from the investigator, the concerns and be able to give proof of the legal ad ... so as far as I know at this point, that's pretty much satisfied until we hear anything different," she said.

Board members also believe the complaints are unfounded.

"How did he have a complaint about early voting if he wasn't here? That's my question," said board member Charlie Vincent. "[For] early voting we didn't have poll watchers, so how can he make a complaint on early voting if he wasn't there. I do not understand how he has legal ground."

Wadsworth was one of seven poll watchers approved by the executive committee of the Dawson County Republican Party to observe the July 31, 2012, General Primary.

According to Ferguson, Wadsworth served as a poll watcher at the west precinct and was there "at opening and left around 3 or 3:30 p.m. Election Day."

Republican candidates Mike Connor, who was running for county commission chairman against incumbent Mike Berg, and District 9 state House hopeful Clint Smith, who ran against Kevin Tanner, each presented a list of nominees to serve as poll watchers. Both Connor and Smith were unsuccessful in their respective campaigns.

Board member Dan Pichon said the complaint concerning electronic units also does not apply, because the code section cited refers to voting machines, rather than direct recording electronic units.

"If you recall the backs of the old mechanical arm voting machines, with the individual lever and you closed the curtain and cast the vote and walked out, those have to be mechanically set on the rear," he said.

"In most jurisdictions, you had to use somebody appointed by the probate judge or Superior Court or the grand jury had to verify that those machines were set, so that code section absolutely does not apply in this case."

Ferguson said some municipalities in the state may still use the antiquated machines, but Dawson County doesn't.

"The municipalities are not restricted, but counties in the state of Georgia are restricted to use the electronic units," she said, adding the code in reference addresses municipalities.

As of Tuesday afternoon, an open records request for information on the case with the Secretary of State's office had not been answered.

 

 

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