Cobb residents frustrated by long wait for primary results
by Rachel Gray
May 22, 2014 04:00 AM | 2999 views | 3 3 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Janine Eveler
Janine Eveler
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MARIETTA — Where are the results and why is it taking so long?

That was the common complaint heard at election parties across the county Tuesday night.

Marietta loan officer Carey Cox, who spent the evening at Bill Byrne’s campaign party at Shillings, observed a general sense of frustration with how long it took the elections office to post the returns.

“We could not understand. We were not getting anything for hours and ended up until about midnight when we got something we thought we could hang our hat on,” Cox said. “I was very frustrated with it. The digital age is slower than what it used to be.”

Former Cobb GOP Chairman Scott Johnson said he was trying to keep up from his vacation in the Grand Canyon.

Johnson said he was watching the election results online from the Secretary of State’s website, but he was not able to find the local contests, such as the Cobb commissioner races.

“I was keeping close tabs on what was going on in Cobb County,” Johnson said about monitoring the statewide races. “It took longer than I expected to get results.”

Cox said he didn’t understand why in this age of technology the elections website didn’t automatically update.

“We’re in a digital age using instant information and we’re on a website that does not automatically refresh,” Cox said. “Information should be there in a couple of hours.”

Chuck Clay, a former state senator and former chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, said he voted ahead of Tuesday’s election.

Clay acknowledged slow results are frustrating to candidates who are on “pins and needles.”

Clay said he misses the old days of wooden boxes with padlocks, instead of the new technology.

He reminisced about numbers, tracked on a chalkboard, being shouted from the elections office to a crowd gathered in the Square in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

“I swear to God we got them in earlier,” Clay said. “Maybe it wasn’t as effective or efficient, but it was sure of a heck of a lot more fun.”

Timing pathetic, writer says

Commenting on the MDJ’s website while waiting for the results, “slow counter” wrote, “Why are the Cobb returns sooooo slow? The old paper bubble ballots were counted faster than these electronic ones are being counted and reported.”

A writer named “watcher” observed, “In this digital age, vote results are coming in very slowly,” while “Dustoff” wrote: “Why is Elections waiting on tech help from KSU???? Cobb has an IT dept. So should it not be done in house to assure proper procedures??”

Another writer demanded an investigation.

“For the few votes actually cast, there is really no valid excuse for it taking so long to count the electronic ballots. This is just pathetic.”

Yet Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler said the timing went as she predicted.

Eveler said the primary is the most complicated election as a result of having ballots for both political parties as well as the nonpartisan races.

“It is conducting three separate elections at one time,” she said.

There are 392,761 active registered voters in Cobb’s 145 precincts.

For Tuesday’s election, there were 68,535 ballots cast, or 17 percent of the electorate, including 13,119 advanced in-person or absentee ballots, Eveler said.

Even though general elections held in November have larger turnouts, the process is simpler for the Cobb Board of Elections, Eveler said.

But according to the Secretary of State’s Georgia Election Results website, Fulton County was last updated at 2:15 a.m. Wednesday morning, Gwinnett at 12:24 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon and DeKalb at 1:59 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. Cobb’s full preliminary results were last updated at 12:09 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

“I don’t consider what happened last night a glitch,” Eveler said. “And I don’t think it was late.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, Eveler said there are 210 provisional ballots to be investigated and 10 military and overseas ballots issued that have not been returned, which will be counted if they are received by Friday with a postmark of Tuesday or before.

In July 2012, the Secretary of State’s office took over posting election results. Until then, the Cobb Board of Elections hosted its own site.

Eveler said one centralized display rather than several by each county is a better system. Still, Eveler said Tuesday night the Cobb Board of Elections sent updated numbers a few times after 10:45 p.m., but nothing was changed on the Secretary of State’s website for more than an hour.

Eveler is not certain what caused the delay.

Another change from July 2012 was no longer having Cobb poll workers upload results from polling locations to the Cobb Board of Elections server.

Eveler said Cobb was one of the last counties to use the dated technology that required an analog phone line, such as a fax line. Now, memory cards are driven from individual polling places to a centralized office off South Cobb Parkway in Kennesaw.

The transportation of the information causes a bit of a lag on the front end, Eveler said, “but once the memory cards are brought in, it is a steady flow.”

Election staff, party leaders

Eveler, who draws a $89,813 salary, took over from outgoing Election Director Sharon Dunn in August 2010 after serving Cobb as the elections manager in charge of training poll workers and preparing polling locations.

The Cobb Board of Elections has 19 full-time employees, about five part-time employees and 50 to 60 paid workers who are brought in six weeks before an election and stay until four weeks after Election Day.

Eveler said most employees headed home at 1 a.m. Wednesday and will now complete an audit before certification of the votes at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

There are 479 advanced voting ballots that need to be manually uploaded after six of Cobb’s 70 voting machines failed last night.

Although the machines were all stationed at North Star Church off Blue Springs Road in Kennesaw, the ballots are from 58 different precincts spread out through the county, so Eveler said the results will not change the race outcomes.

Comments
(3)
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East Cobb Senior
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May 22, 2014
Totally unacceptable excuse. The Director of Elections sounds more like Barak Obama with all the excuses and no accountability. This Primary election was no different than any other as far as multi-party ballots are concerned. She is clearly demonstrating severe incompetence. Tim Lee and David Hankerson hired her so are they going to play the Obama game and pull a Sebelius and ignore the obvious. Time will tell.
kkddii
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May 22, 2014
She is in way over her head. Secretary of State needs to address this and other issues with Cobb Board of Elections.
A campaign volunteer
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May 22, 2014
Why is anyone surprised, this happens every time we have an election. How could we expect different results with the same team? These delays translate into mistrust of the numbers. When you think of the time, effort, and money put into the campaigns Cobb deserves better. I could use my calculator and get you the results faster.
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