Georgia Voting Officials Kept Thousands of Voting Machines Locked Away In Communities With Large Minority Populations
Via WashPost: More than 1,800 machines sat idle in storage in three of the state’s largest and most heavily Democratic counties. In Fulton County, according to figures provided by elections director Rick Barron, the ratio of machines to registered voters was lower than it had been in 2014, despite predictions that turnout was likely to break records for a midterm election.
While some voters waited in hours-long lines in Fulton County, 700 of those machines sat in stacks in a warehouse in downtown Atlanta, Barron said. The machines were sidelined because they are evidence in a lawsuit alleging the equipment had been exposed to the threat of hacking in 2016.
The federal judge in the case had ordered state and local election officials — including Kemp — and the plaintiffs to weigh the demands of upcoming elections in deciding how many machines to set aside.
In an interview, Barron said more machines “would have made a huge impact on operations yesterday” and acknowledged that “it would have been a good idea” to push for the use of more machines before Election Day.
“The lines were long in the morning and we just didn’t have any machines to throw out there,” he said.
Broce, too, said additional machines “would have really helped with the long lines.”
She blamed the litigation for tying up those machines. One attorney for the plaintiffs, Bruce Brown, called that “rubbish” and said officials could have sequestered fewer machines, or later decided to put some back into service.
Daniel White, an attorney representing Cobb and DeKalb counties, said both counties kept more machines out of circulation Tuesday than required by the judge “out of an abundance of caution” that they were complying with the spirit of the court agreement.
White said he suspected the sequestered machines contributed to long lines at his polling place Tuesday. At a school in Marietta, where White said he usually sees eight to 12 machines, he saw just five or six.
Tuesday’s ballot was long, with five constitutional amendments across the state and additional measures in select locations.
One precinct near Pittman Park in downtown Atlanta started the day with just three machines, despite a registered voter roll of more than 3,000. Similar equipment problems were reported elsewhere in Fulton County and in three other large counties of the Atlanta metro area — Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett.
Abrams’s campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo said the problems were Kemp’s responsibility. “Machines were breaking down and counties did not get guidance from the secretary of state and didn’t have adequate paper ballots — let’s be clear about where the blame lies,” she said.
Broce said local officials make those decisions, not the secretary of state.
“Counties are the custodians of the equipment and are responsible for deploying it,” she said.