Candidate has questions about voting procedures

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 4, 2001

Brookhaven election officials were seeking answers Friday afterthe city’s Republican mayoral candidate raised questions overseveral voting-related procedures.

John Roberts, the city’s Ward 4 alderman, met Friday withelection commissioners regarding what he called some questionableabsentee balloting activities, poll worker selection andvote-counting observation guidelines.

During the meeting, Roberts said he knew of at least 12occasions where absentee ballots had been sent to individuals andthen followed up with a visit from person volunteering to mail inthe ballot for the voter. The candidate suggested that absenteevotes for him were not being mailed in.

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“I know there is some fraud going on,” Roberts said, although hedid not offer any proof to commissioners Friday.

One incident involved a voter who had passed away.

“His ballot has been cast and he’s dead,” said Roberts, thoughhe did not identify the individual.

Mayor Bill Godbold, who arrived at the meeting shortly after itbegan, said afterward that he did not know of any people working topick up and mail in absentee ballots on his behalf.

“If they are, I hope they’re picking up the right ones,” themayor quipped.

In his understanding of absentee balloting, Godbold said familymembers handle ballots for family members and nursing home stafftypically handle ballots for residents of those facilities.

Also in the meeting, Roberts questioned the party affiliationsof poll workers and whether there was an equal number of Republicanand Democratic poll workers at each voting place.

Election Commissioner Bonita Bullock said Roberts’ questionswere the first time the issue had come up.

“I didn’t question the people when I asked them to work,”Bullock said.

Roberts also questioned how closely his election observers couldbe to poll workers as they count votes Tuesday night. He wasseeking to have an observer looking “over the shoulder” of pollworkers as votes are being called out and tabulated.

A Secretary of State official talking to commissioners viaspeakerphone said candidates do not have any say in selection ofpoll workers, and poll managers may decide how closely an observermay be during vote counting.

“You’re in total control of the voting place,” the stateelection official said.

Other technical aspects of election-related questions, such ashow voting may be challenged, were referred to Reese Partridge,attorney for the Secretary of State’s office.

Partridge was unavailable for the Friday morning meeting and wasnot expected in the office until late that afternoon. Localelection officials were trying to contact him to answer questionsregarding the general election.