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As expected, voter turnout in primary ‘light’
by Everett Catts
May 28, 2014 12:24 PM | 2332 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / From left, election clerk Rachel Davis checks in Buckhead resident Helena Shreve to vote at Sarah Smith Elementary School in Buckhead.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / From left, election clerk Rachel Davis checks in Buckhead resident Helena Shreve to vote at Sarah Smith Elementary School in Buckhead.
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As expected, turnout in last week’s primary election was low, with only 19.5 percent of registered voters statewide casting ballots.

In Fulton and Cobb counties, it was even lower, at 16.39 percent and 17.5 percent, respectively.

“It was light,” Rick Barron, director of Fulton County Registration and Elections, said of his county’s primary. “I would like to see more people vote, especially in the bigger elections. I hope people use early voting more to avoid the lines [on Election Day]. Fulton County is committed to keep a lot of locations open for voters to make it convenient during that three-week period.”

Poll managers interviewed on Election Day at three precincts in Buckhead and Sandy Springs also said turnout was low.

Barron said one possible reason for the low turnout in Fulton was the higher number of early voters, 15,420 this year.

“We doubled the 2010 numbers,” he said, referring to the last election in which the governor’s seat was up for a vote. “In 2010 we had 45 days of early voting. This year we had less than half that time and double the voters. I really think we should be hitting 60,000 [ballots cast] during early voting.”

Barron said the county did have some issues at the polls.

“We had some problems at Georgia Tech,” he said. “There was a church that went under renovations that we usually use, so we moved the polling place to the Georgia Tech Student life Center. There was some confusion on where to park and where to go. One poling site in the south, Fickett Elementary, had some long lines.”

When asked about claims made by Jackie Slaughter-Gibbons, who said the voting machine she used at Brookview Elementary School in East Point selected two candidates she did not pick, Barron said he was not aware of the issue and declined to comment on it.

Slaughter-Gibbons said the machine chose District 6 Fulton County Board of Education candidate DeAndre Pickett instead of her choice, Katherine Maddox, and Fulton County Superior Court judge candidate Shondeanna Crews-Morris instead of her selection for that seat, Shelitha Robertson. She said when she alerted a poll worker, she had to start over the voting process at least two times before the problem was fixed.

Barron did offer two theories on what happened in Slaughter-Gibbons’ case.

“There’s only two ways that happens,” he said. “Sometimes ladies with long fingernails accidentally select another candidate. Either that or the machine is out of calibration.”

Overall, Barron said he was pleased with the job Fulton did with the primary election.

“As a whole the election went great,” he said. “The early voting went really smooth. Election Day had no issues that were out of the ordinary. We were able to manage anything that came up. An error-free election is impossible in elections registration. I have been involved in over 100 elections in eight states and I’ve never seen a perfect one. We’re just striving to do our best and make it easy for anyone to vote. We don’t want to disenfranchise anyone.”
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