Bibb Delayed Checks of Voter Addresses

4:14 PM, Sep 10, 2013   |    comments
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Bibb County election officials are checking addresses against county district maps to make sure people are voting in the right races for the new county commission, but they waited several days to begin checking after the Secretary of State's office recommended it.

Through Georgia Open Records requests, 13WMAZ found that:

--On Aug. 28, Bibb election officials notified the Secretary of State's office that some voters were listed in the wrong districts and had already voted. The Bibb officials asked for help solving the problem.

--That night, state election administration manager Erica Hamilton instructed Bibb officials to check addresses against the county district maps before handing voters ballots.

But Bibb's Chief Registrar Veronica Seals told 13WMAZ Monday that the board started checking the maps just last Friday, Sept. 6, more than a week later.

Hundreds more people voted in the meantime at the Board of Elections.

Last Thursday, Sept. 5, 13WMAZ reporters at the elections board did not see officials checking addresses against the district map. They were checking voter identification as usual.

After confirming that at least 30 people voted in the wrong districts and hundreds more were listed incorrectly, elections supervisor Jeanetta Watson said County Attorney Virgil Adams would decide how to correct the problem.

Adams told 13WMAZ Friday the elections are being handled properly and should proceed.

Watson did not make herself available for interviews Monday.

When 13WMAZ visited the election board office on Monday, the new address-checking procedure was apparently slowing early voting.

We visited the election board office again Tuesday morning. Workers were continuing to use the verification procedure.

We again asked Jeanetta Watson for an interview. She said she was busy but might be available Thursday or Friday.

Doug Haygood stood in line about 40 minutes on Monday before getting his card.

"They said they wanted to check my street address was in the district that I was voting in and it was," Haygood said.

Also Monday, Ty Ivey stood also stood in line about 40 minutes before getting his ballot. Some of that time was spent checking his district.

"The gentleman went back and checked it on the map to make sure the voting district was right," Ivey said.

Nikia Trice also spent about 40 minutes in line on Monday. She says election officials also checked her address on the map.

"I provided my drivers license and then she looked up some records, I guess to see what district I was in to make sure I was in the right area, and then I was given my card, and I was able to vote," Trice said.

Meanwhile Monday, the board of elections' phone system was down for the second time in just over a week, making it harder for voters to get help.

Calls to the board's office either went to voice mails or transferred to the main county switchboard. Callers were told the phone system was down and would be back up in a few minutes.

But the telephone problem persisted throughout the day. Officials declined comment on the phone situation when a visitor asked about it mid-afternoon.

Later, the registrar, Veronica Seals, answered a call to the office. She acknowledged the earlier problems with the phones but noted they have been corrected.

Early voting continues through Friday. The election will be held Sept. 17.

At stake is the mayor's office and nine commission seats in the new Macon-Bibb consolidated government.

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