FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Fulton County cannot conduct ‘efficient, orderly’ elections with the current Georgia Registered Voters Information System (GARViS) software, Fulton County Board of Registrations and Elections Vice Chairman Michael Heekins warned Tuesday.
He said they faced several challenges during the administration, counting and certification of the 2023 local government elections because of GARViS.
“Getting reliable turnout data, inaccurate data in general about who voted and how many times they voted was not uncommon [in Fulton and other counties]”, he said. “Critical information that can be found on the My Voter site or elsewhere is still not reliably available to Georgia voters or Georgia counties.”
He said they have just four months to make the necessary changes ahead of the 2024 presidential election in March.
“The Secretary of State needs a firm commitment to complete GARViS so that it stands tall in time for the March 12 presidential election,” he said. “The alternative is unthinkable.”
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On Tuesday, board member Aaron Johnson raised concerns that he had heard of people voting outside their districts.
Fulton County Director of Registrations and Elections Nadine Williams said they stemmed from problems in the towns of South Fulton and East Point.
“Our registration department went back and looked at every single vote that was cast in both of those cities to see if those people were in the right district,” she said. “We have a follow-up note coming to say how many were identified as incorrect.”
At the time of the meeting, Williams said they had identified 16 in East Point and six in South Fulton, for a total of 22. Those ballots did not affect any results, she said.
“If we know out of those 16 people, four voted in the wrong ward – we will look at the election results and make sure that four would not have made a difference in the margin of victory,” she said. “I can’t see who you voted for, but I can see which ballot you got.”
Williams said they are working to address these issues ahead of the runoff races and 2024.
“We know there will be redistricting for the next election and we will make sure we work with GIS,” she said. “We’ve actually already had meetings with them to start verifying more information to make sure we’re absolutely 100% ready to go to 2024.”
They also plan to add provisional leaders and signage to precincts to make those ballots more accessible to anyone who isn’t sure if they have the right ballot.
At the close of the polls, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the GARViS test for the 2023 municipal races was “a resounding success.” He also said election officials across the state noticed positive improvements.
“Shorter wait times mean less confusion at the polls, fewer errors and increased voter confidence,” Raffensperger said in a statement. “We applaud our county elected officials for getting the job done once again.”
11Alive reached out to the Secretary of State’s office with the concerns noted in Fulton County. They have not yet responded at 1.30pm on Wednesday.