The Rome-Floyd County NAACP has forwarded a list of complaints to its state organization in regard to the Floyd County Board of Elections and Registration’s handling of local voting in the June 9 primary.
According to local NAACP president Ouida D. Sams, the group is unhappy with portions of how the last election day was handled and with Chief Elections Clerk Robert Brady’s June 26 follow up report on the matter.
“Mr. Brady gave a report and said that he did a good job and that there were no real issues that day,” Sams said, but said the local NAACP has several concerns about how June 9 was handled.
“There are several concerns,” Sams said. “Voting is not a joke; this is a serious matter.”
Sams said Georgia NAACP President James Woodall met with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger last Monday about voting concerns, including those in Floyd County.
Brady said he was unaware of any action by the NAACP, but stands by his June 26 report.
“There were a few problems, as there always are,” Brady said. “We had one piece of equipment fail, and we replaced that. Beyond all that, I’m not aware of anything other than the usual minor annoyances with opening and closing the polls.”
Brady said he isn’t aware of any formal complaint filed at the state level in reference to June 9, other than local “grumblings.”
“They have not specifically said anything to me about having an issue,” Brady said. “I know they are unhappy with me as a general statement. I’m not aware of any complaint that’s been forwarded to anybody.”
Brady responded to six bullet points presented in the NAACP complaint, but maintained he hadn’t been aware of them, specifically, prior to speaking with the Rome News-Tribune.
The complaint contains allegations that there were late poll openings, a lack of training, an inconsistent absentee ballot protocol and instances of equipment failure.
Brady said he addressed several of the concerns Monday:
♦ Late poll openings
“It is entirely possible that there were polling places that did not open exactly at 7 o’clock,” Brady said. “I was not made aware of anybody that had any major problems that lasted much later than 7 o’clock. We did have a few that were a little slow to get opened up in the morning.”
♦ Inaccessibility of support for poll managers/lack of training
“Is there such a thing as enough training? As far as I’m concerned, there is no such thing as enough training,” Brady said. “This was day one with the new system. We had 18 years of training with the old system.”
♦ Mistreatment of poll workers/lack of materials
“I don’t know of any situation where a poll worker was mistreated,” Brady said.
♦ Inconsistent absentee ballot protocols
“I am uncertain exactly what that means,” Brady said.
♦ Equipment failure
Brady said they had one voting machine fail that day and it was replaced in compliance with all rules and regulations. The problem with that particular machine has since been diagnosed.
“Registrars and deputy registrars are the only people allowed to possess ballots other than the person voting,” Brady said. “One piece of equipment failed and we replaced it. When we replaced it, the board of elections chairman, the county manager, and I were all there on site, absolutely in compliance with the rules.”
♦ Early closing of ballot drop boxes
“By legal definition, we didn’t do anything wrong,” Brady said. He said the rules at the time stated that polling places had to be closed by 7 p.m., but they didn’t specify how long they had to be open.The rule has since been clarified, he said, ensuring the boxes are kept open at least until 7 p.m.
Brady said he wants to assure voters that the process, locally speaking, will be more smooth in the future.
“I was unaware of any of this beyond we’ve already addressed all of these issues at the local level,” Brady said.
“I stand by all of my decisions. If they expect perfection, I’m sorry, ... they’re going to be disappointed,” he said. “They got the very best job we could do. I assure you, the next elections will run smoother from here forward. I think the Floyd County elections went very smoothly.”