“With the brainpower we are bringing in,” he said hiring redistricting consultant Linda Meggers and on-site computer technicians, “I feel confident this won’t happen again.”
However, first he apologized for errors in the 600,000-voter, 348-precinct election.
“I have a long history of doing things very well, almost to perfection,” said Westmoreland, an eight-year veteran of the department. “I apologize I was not able to deliver that to you.”
He said redistricting was at the heart of the problem.
“We did not get the redistricting information from Fulton County schools until two weeks before the election. The deadline was 180 days,” Westmoreland said about a situation in which school board votes had to be input manually on a single computer, challenging his staff’s time management skills.
Another redistricting issue sent about 700 ballots for state Senate District 6, which includes parts of Buckhead and Sandy Springs, and state House District 58, which includes parts of south Atlanta, to north Fulton’s Senate District 56 and Midtown’s House District 59 instead.
“Our computer recognized that was not correct,” Westmoreland said about the mishandling of 700 votes, including 343 from Sandy Springs precinct SS08C. “For some reason, it simply did not flag anyone’s attention and nothing was done about it.”
Funds for the new hires — and more computers — will come from part of Westmoreland’s $9 million fiscal 2012 budget.
“There won’t be a county-wide runoff,” Westmoreland said about Tuesday’s District 62 and 63 elections in south Fulton, “so that will free up considerable resources to concentrate on problems and concerns in our offices before the November elections.”
All seven commissioners addressed Westmoreland at the county government center assembly hall in downtown Atlanta.
“They would shut this county down to ensure that everybody was taken care of at the polls,” District 4 Commissioner Tom Lowe said about elections in previous decades. “We have got to do something to restore people’s confidence in the kind of business we’re running down here.”
Westmoreland said he will take District 2 Commissioner Robb Pitt’s advice to work with Secretary of State Brian Kemp for a smooth presidential election.
“We have less than 83 days left to get this right,” Pitts said.