“Everything went according to plan,” Eveler said Wednesday afternoon. “We felt very good about the whole process. Our processes worked great.”
Eveler said several polls throughout the county still had voters lined up at 7 p.m. Tuesday when polls were scheduled to close.
“They have to finish voting everybody who is in line at seven,” she said. “It was all across the county. It takes a while for them to close the poll when they have to finish voting people, and we didn’t start getting cars from the polls arriving at our prep center in Kennesaw, which is where they have to come first. We had one car that arrived from the Kennesaw Community Center right after 8 p.m., but then everybody else arrived there at 8:30 p.m. and later.”
At her elections office off Whitlock Avenue, Eveler keeps a “tabulating server” where the voter memory cards are uploaded, much the way photos from a digital camera’s memory card are uploaded.
“It collects all of the votes on one unit,” she said.
For the runoffs on Aug. 21, Eveler expects to follow the same process.
“We won’t do anything differently, but it will come out differently because we probably won’t have the number of people coming late in the day,” she said. “We probably also won’t be sending out as many touch-screen units. … It takes the poll workers longer to close down more units.”
Cobb has 153 precincts, and Eveler said her staff continued to get calls from poll workers with questions until 8 p.m. Tuesday, indicating long lines late at several precincts — though she couldn’t say how many of the polling places closed late.
“I don’t have numbers to tell you, just kind of anecdotal information,” she said.
Eveler said Cobb could not even report the early voting returns at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“Our early, in-person machines were still being closed down,” she said, even though early voting ended last Friday.
In addition, Cobb’s Board of Elections last year ended the practice of having poll workers upload results from their polling locations. Now, all equipment is driven to Kennesaw, then the memory cards are driven to Marietta for tabulating.
“We kind of got a little spoiled, because we were doing the transmitting from the polls to the central office to get some of the first results,” she said. “We were the only county still doing it, and it was becoming more and more difficult for us to get technical support from the state and from the Center for Election Services. It was becoming more difficult to do it than we were getting the benefit from getting the earlier results.”
What was new for the Cobb Elections office was uploading its polling data to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.
“We were very careful about that and made sure what we were sending was the correct format and everything looked the way we expected it to look. So that also caused a little bit of a delay,” she said.
Returns were not posted on the Cobb Elections website or on the county’s cable channel, Eveler and other county officials said, because they did not get formatting information in time from the Secretary of State’s office.
Most of Cobb’s results were uploaded just before midnight, but elections workers did not finish for the night until 4:27 a.m. Wednesday, according to the results page time stamp on the Secretary of State’s website.
“We had over 4,000 mail ballots,” Eveler said. “Each one goes through the machine, so it takes a while.”
Now all that remains are the provisional ballots.
“We have three days to investigate the provisional ballots. We have 309 of those,” she said.
Former county commissioner Butch Thompson was not pleased by the process.
“You couldn’t get any results, and you had to go to the state level to do it,” Thompson said. “In somebody’s wisdom they decided that they didn’t want Cobb County to have the election results so normal people could see where we’re at. I don’t know why it now has to come under state control. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I found it real frustrating.”
Thompson said searching for the races he was interested in was made too complicated.
“It was terrible, and I don’t know how one person can make that decision that’s going to affect everybody,” he said.
Eveler said the decision was Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s.
“Well maybe Brian Kemp needs to go,” Thompson said.
State Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell) was less than pleased as well.
“Something needs to be done,” Wilkerson said. “Cobb used to be one of the counties that always had the earliest results coming in.”
The process risks turning voters off, Wilkerson said.
“At some point people will start to question the process when you have that long of a delay,” Wilkerson said.
“We already have low enough voter turnout, you don’t want to do anything else that’s going to cause people to say they don’t want to participate in the process because it’s not a fair one,” he said.
Libertarian activist David Chastain said the process left something to be desired as well.
“I was not pleased with the results last night,” Chastain said.
Cobb GOP Chairman Joe Dendy agreed there were some bugs in the system that needed to be worked out. At the same time, “I’m thinking it could be a good system once they tweak it some,” Dendy said. “I didn’t like that you can’t search. You just have to keep scrolling until you find it. I think that could be changed, but I think it could be a good system once the bugs are worked out of it.”