State probes Fulton County's election board - New York News

State probes Fulton County's election board

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FULTON COUNTY, Ga. -

Thousands of Fulton County votes remained uncounted on Wednesday because of problems at the poll on Election Day.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp's office says it has launched an investigation after more than 11,000 paper provisional ballots were cast on Tuesday.  

Those provisional ballots have to be counted by end of business on Friday, and a county official told FOX 5's Justin Gray that they don't plan to start counting them until Friday. Kemp said he's concerned the county won't finish in time.

Despite reports of problems at many precincts on Tuesday, Fulton County commissioners praised the work of interim elections director Sharon Mitchell.

"Well done Miss Mitchell, well done," said Fulton County Commissioner Emma Darnell.

The Secretary of State's office said they have tried to get in touch with Mitchell about what they call an Election Day debacle.

Ronnie Mosley is one of hundreds of voters who have complained that they had problems voting in Fulton County.

Mosley, a Morehouse student, said that he registered before the October deadline. However, when he tried to vote, his name was not in the county's system.

"What message is saying that you've done the right things, you came here on Election Day, yet you still can't vote," said Mosley.

Kemp says his office received hundreds of calls from voters saying their names weren't in the system, and after some precincts ran out of provisional ballots.

"As for the voter out there, I'm as steamed as they are. And when we get Fulton before the State Election Board meeting, I think they'll feel the wrath of the SEB," said Kemp.

Kemp says he has four investigators at the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections as they count thousands of provisional ballots. He says people who should have been able to vote by computer could not, and in some cases, precincts ran out of the paper ballots.

"I told somebody just a little while ago on the phone that there were problems in '08. They obviously have not learned from those problems. We had problems in the primary that we warned them about that were going to happen. They did...they assured us they were going to fix these problems, have resources over there that they needed. And you know, it looks like they have not done that," said Kemp.

In September, the interim director had promised the election would go more smoothly.

"We feel we stand ready to do a good election. About 7,000 absentee, 2,100 poll workers trained and ready, so we believe we stand ready," said Mitchell in September.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Mitchell told county commissioners her take on what happened.

"I thought there was inordinate amount of attention on a few unfortunate situations," said Mitchell.

Chairman John Eaves thanked Mitchell for stepping in to the job only six weeks ago buts added that the voting problems need to be fixed.

"There certainly were challenges. We worked very hard before the election to make sure that all the bases were covered. Of course the outcome was less than desirable. There were about 15 precincts that had mistakes, had challenges. This is among the 300 plus that we have in Fulton County," Eaves said.

Mosley said he was disappointed.

"Looking at the results coming in and seeing that tally, and knowing that your vote is not in that tally – you feel as if it doesn't count," said Mosley.

The Secretary of State's office says their big concern right now is making sure the thousands of provisional ballots are counted. They've sent investigators to oversee that, but as of Wednesday afternoon, the counting had still not begun.

"The communication with Fulton has not been what we would have wanted today.  Our focus is making sure that all the provisional ballots are processed by Fulton by the close of business on Friday," Jared Thomas of Kemp's office said in a statement.

"This is a great concern to me, particularly when you have young people anxious to be part of the political process," said state Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta).

After the 2008 election, the county had to pay $120,000 in fines because of the investigation by the state election board. The Secretary of State's Office tells FOX 5 the fines could be more than that this time, depending on their investigation.

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