By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
Elections board under investigation

Two complaints filed by a poll watcher following a 2012 primary election in Dawson County has led to an investigation of the elections board by the Georgia Secretary of State.

The complaints, filed by Dawson County resident Sam Wadsworth on July 26, 2012 allege improper notice of testing of the voting units during the July 2012 primary election, and question whether the units were secured and properly sealed during advance voting.

I dont have any doubt that we followed proper procedure, said Glenda Ferguson, chair, chief registrar and elections supervisor for Dawson County. Weve done it the same way for 10 years.

Wadsworth was a poll watcher at the West Precinct in Dawson County.

The complaints refer to alleged improper Logic and Accuracry testing notification that Wadsworth says did not adhere to state statutes.

We placed an ad in the legal organ in our county pursuant to 21-2-370.6(c), Ferguson said in an email to the News & Advertiser. This is the only requirement Im aware of by law for the use of DRE (direct recording electronic) units.

The units are electronic touch-screen systems commonly used by voters in Dawson County during elections.

My interpretation of the code section that Mr. Wadsworth cited, 21-2-327(c) refers to voting machines specifically for municipal elections, Ferguson said. ...Whereas 21-2-379.6(a) starts off, The superintendent of each county or municipality shall cause the proper ballot design and style to be programmed for each direct recording electronic unit (DRE)..., Ferguson said.

By law, the county is required to use the touch-screen system.

There are municipalities that choose other methods of voting that require a different level of security in counting and computation, where the county is required, by law, to use DRE units (all electronic). The differing code sections refer to different respective methods of voting.

Most people arent aware the Georgia Election Code is written with all permissible local government structures in mind as well (i.e. probate judge overseeing elections, separate boards of election & registration and combined boards) and has not been rewritten with updates (other than printed supplements) in quite a while. It can be quite confusing, she said.

Wadsworth sought assurance the voting units had proper documentation.

He (Mr. Wadsworth) wanted to make sure the fields on the units from the time of testing each day and each evening had a recap sheet that was accurately sealed and that there was documentation to support that, Ferguson said.

She said proper protocol was followed.

We did all of that properly and accurately, she said. We supplied proof that is was all done in accordance with code, and the investigator was satisfied with our information as far as I know.

Ferguson was referring to Georgia Secretary of State Elections Investigator Jeff Howard.

Howard confirmed the investigation is currently open.

Secretary of State Chief Investigator Chris Harvey, Howards direct supervisor, said once the investigation is completed, the findings are presented to the state board of elections for review.

That meeting, tentatively scheduled for May, is open to the public, he said.

I will be the one presenting the findings to the board, Harvey said. I will also be making the recommendation, depending on the nature of any violations, that the case go to the attorney general, be dismissed, or that a letter of instruction be written.

Generally, he said, there are no criminal charges filed unless there are malicious, nefarious violations.

Those types of violations include mishandling votes, tampering with ballots, voter intimidation, buying or selling votes. Anything intentionally designed to frustrate the fair election process would be included, he said.

According to Harvey, secretary of states requests for information from the Dawson County Board of Elections has been satisfied.