by Robin Kemp
8/19 9:34 a.m.: CLARIFIES graf 12: Ridley consultant to White, who runs the election; ADDS Cooper comment on procurement
The Georgia State Elections Board has referred Forest Park elections consultant Marcia Ridley to state Attorney General Chris Carr’s office over her alleged handling of elections supplies, including paperwork with voters’ information that was tossed into a dumpster, while she was Spalding County elections director.
“The sheer volume of mistakes and allegations in this case is overwhelming,” said SEB chair Rebecca Sullivan.
Voters had to wait up to two hours in line to cast their ballots.
Ridley was referred for not having enough provisional ballots on hand in case of an emergency or equipment malfunction. Ridley had told state officials that she was unaware of the proper procedure, despite numerous trainings that had taken place before the election.
In addition, the SEB alleged, some voters were not able to vote provisional ballots or whose names did not appear on the electronic list.
Spalding County Attorney Stephanie Windham said the county has a new elections supervisor “and an entirely new Board of Elections starting in December.” Four new members were appointed and one member’s term expires in December, she said. Windham said that all 18 precincts in Spalding County were down when the polls opened at 7 a.m.
“We cannot deny that hundreds of voters did not sign poll pads,” she said, adding that, because Ridley had not trained on emergency ballots, none of the poll managers had been trained on them, either.
Windham asked that the poll managers be given letters of instruction because “they were doing as they were told, as they were trained.”
She added that workers who picked up the ballot containers did so alone and that some of the ballot containers were unsecured. Again, Windham said, “they were simply doing what they were asked to do in an effort to be helpful” and to be sure every vote was counted.
Spalding’s new elections supervisor started Monday, Windham said, and is working to recertify and train everyone. She said liaisons from the Secretary of State’s office, Robin Carr and Sarah Beck, have been helping the county’s elections workers get up to speed on SB 202.
Forest Park City Manager Dr. Marc-Antonie Cooper said that, as of press time, Ridley was still contracted with the city to serve as a consultant to White in the upcoming election.
“This was a special purchase under 3-1-12 (H) of the procurement code due to the unusual and unique situation,” Cooper told The Clayton Crescent. “It still had to be presented to the City Council for approval, but no RFP was placed for these services.”
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