The fallout from several very contentious elections is likely to be felt deep into 2021.
John Scott Husser, one of three members of the Floyd County Board of Elections, expressed serious frustrations Wednesday morning after a number of veteran poll workers said they would not return for future elections.
“It was not a pretty day for our poll workers,” Husser said. “A lot of them were verbally assaulted. We had one person told that they were going to burn in hell. Lots of poll managers and poll workers were just upset by the way they were treated by voters here in Floyd County.”
Sheriff Dave Roberson said that he is familiar with a couple of instances where a deputy had to intervene in a situation. Sheriff’s deputies and city and county police were at polling locations after threats were made against elections workers.
“I think (on) one occasion somebody was upset. I think they went to a location to vote and were told they couldn’t vote there, they had to go somewhere else,” Roberson said. “Somebody got upset and a deputy had to step in and quell that.”
County Police Chief Mark Wallace said officers provided security during the pick up of absentee ballots across the county.
While some may have been upset by software glitches early in the day on voter check-in pads, Husser said, most issues were cleared up very quickly.
“All in all, those voters understood,” Husser said.
Many of the abusive incidents occurred at random times through the day.
The elections office in Rome received threats similar to those reported in other communities across the state. Tech support staff were told to report to work Tuesday in plain clothes, without any kind of visible identification, to avoid the potential for conflict.
Husser said the politically charged atmosphere shows a complete lack of empathy.
“It’s discouraging and disappointing,” Husser said. “As a result of those, we’ve had poll managers and poll workers who have been doing this for a long time saying they were done. They don’t want to be treated like that and it’s just not worth it.”
It’s going to be difficult to replace veteran poll workers. The really difficult aspect of the situation is that the county will be losing people with years of experience who have been trained on the equipment, he said.
“Until you’ve used this equipment, you don’t know how it operates,” Husser said. “Now you’re going to have new people using it and trying to work it out and that could lead to frustration and problems on election day.”
The city of Rome will have an election in the fall of 2021 with three seats on the ballot. City Ward Two seats — currently held by Wendy Davis, Randy Quick and Jamie Doss — will be up for election this fall.