Macon-Bibb Voters Confused About District Boundaries

4:29 PM, Sep 11, 2013   |    comments
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One week before the first election for a consolidated government, people in Macon and Bibb County are still sorting out which district they're in and whom they can vote for in the county commission races.

It's happening at the Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections where address checks are causing long lines and long delays.

It's also happening at hundreds of homes where some people are puzzled over instructions from voting officials.

Along with others on DeSoto Place, John Marshall received a letter last week from the elections board. Signed by Chief Registrar Veronica Seals, it said officials recently sent him a voter card with the wrong Macon-Bibb Commission district.

According to that letter, Marshall's correct district is nine. But on the Georgia Secretary of State's website, voters can look up sample ballots and check what races they should find on their ballots.

The website says Marshall's street, located off Vineville Avenue, is in District 5.

"At the rate they're going and the problems they're finding, they're going to have to just stop and start over," Marshall said Tuesday.

The elections board sent those letters on Sept. 3. That's five days after Elections Supervisor Jeanetta Watson emailed Secretary of State officials that they'd put hundreds of people in the wrong voting districts.

Watson said her office needed help to fix the problem.

Later that day, state Elections Administration Manager Erica Hamilton responded to Watson, saying there wasn't a quick fix for the problem.

Until then, Hamilton wrote, Bibb officials should check every voter's address against a map to make sure people were voting in the right district.

Seals said that procedure didn't begin until Sept. 6, more than a week after Hamilton advised the board to do so.

 PDF Document: Email exchange between Jeanetta Watson and Erica Hamilton 

  PDF Document: Email from Erica Hamilton to Bibb Registrar Veronica Seals 

 PDF Document:Bibb County Sample Ballot (shows candidates in all districts)

Watson has publicly acknowledged that at least 788 registered voters were listed in the wrong districts and that at least 30 people had already voted in the wrong district before the mistakes were discovered.

Watson has said it would not be possible for voters to re-vote in the correct districts.

Meanwhile, in response to 13WMAZ's Georgia Open Records request, election officials provided a sheet listing 31 streets in different sections of the county, including DeSoto Place.

It appears to be a list of streets that were placed in wrong voting disticts. Asked about the list, County Attorney Virgil Adams responded that he couldn't explain the list.

The Secretary of State's election officials declined comment on the list. But spokesman Jared Thomas confirmed that the state office has a copy of the street list and that it's a part of state's investigation into the Bibb voting confusion.

Back on DeSoto Place, John Marshall isn't sure what's happening. But he said he's afraid Bibb County is headed for trouble.

"If you keep going ahead, someone's going to protest that they didn't get votes they were supposed to get or somebody voted against them but wasn't supposed to vote against them," Marshall said.

Despite the confusion, county attorney Adams and Secretary of State officials have said the voting must continue.

Meanwhile on Wilson Road in west Bibb County, W.F. Livingston added his name to the growing list of people who voted in the wrong district.

Livingston said he voted early and a few days later he received a letter from election officials informing him that he'd voted in the wrong district.

He called the elections board, Livingston said, and was told he wouldn't have to vote again.

The election is Sept. 17. At stake is the mayor's office and nine commission seats.

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