From our friends at the Skidaway Island Democrats
Antwan Lang, Chatham County Board of Elections member, will present the attached proposal at the BOE Meeting, Monday, September 14th at 3:30 PM. We, Skidaway Island Democrats, encourage you to sign onto the virtual meeting (https://elections.chathamcountyga.gov/Meetings) and demonstrate your support for this important voter protection proposal. Also, please share this information with friends and colleagues.
This proposal is an important step toward ensuring that November 3rd, every Chatham County vote will be protected and every Chatham County vote will be counted.
MEMORANDUM FOR RECORD
SUBJECT: Chatham County Board of Elections Voter Protection Plan
10 September 2020
For more than a year Chatham County Board of Elections staff have been hard at work planning the execution of the 2020 Presidential election cycle. I am proud to witness the progress we’ve made and the many hurdles we’ve overcome. With COVID-19, rescheduling of primaries, run-offs and court ordered hand recounts, our staff has shown tremendous flexibility and outstanding adaptability.
As we approach the November 3rd Presidential election, it is absolutely crucial and of upmost importance we strive for excellence, transparency, and efficiency in executing our priorities. Around the country the integrity and confidence of the elections process has been compromised with political rhetoric and misinformation. We’ve had our share of learning experiences and we must implement the lessons we’ve learned. Every effort should be made to protect the elections process and for this reason I believe a robust voter protection plan should be implemented. With our main focus on three tenants of success; Transparency, Security and Expedited Ballot Counting.
This election cycle, our offices will be faced with a particularly high workload. As of September 9, 2020 Chatham County has approximately 193,030 active registered voters. According to August 2020 reports, we have 26,737 inactive voters. Many of our inactive voters will participate in the presidential election cycle which will convert them into active voters. If we liberally estimate all 26,737 inactive voters converting to active, this will bring us to 219,767 active voters potentially participating in the elections process. Of approximately 219,767 potential active voters, I conservatively estimate 60,000-75,000 absentee ballots being cast by citizens. This will be double the amount (31,000) of absentee ballots our office received and counted for the June 9th, 2020 primary. With 60,000 Absentee ballots cast, 159,767 active voters remain.
In previous elections, the Chatham County board of registrars has experienced a 42%-48% early voting turnout. With these projections we can safely estimate 67,102 or 42% of the remaining 159,767 active voters will vote early from October 12th-30th. This will leave our office with approximately 92,665 citizens casting their ballots on November 3rd 2020 as in-person voters. Given these projections we can estimate our office handling a total of 219,767 ballots. Including 60,000 absentee ballots and 67,102 early voting ballots. This does not take into account cured, UOCAVA (Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act), or rejected ballots. These projections also do not take into consideration the approximate amount of new registered voters added by October 5th, the voter registration deadline. As of September 8th, 2020 approximately 6,500 citizens submitted change of address, updating registration information and new voter registration applications. With these projections in mind, we must set measurable and obtainable goals to accurately, efficiently, and expeditiously count ballots.
In addition to the increased workload, the November 3rd, 2020 general election will be conducted in a highly charged social and political environment. Confidence in the elections process is a top priority. Transparency, security, and expediency of the process will alleviate many fears and public uncertainties. Below you will find examples of various avenues of approach.
Transparency Public awareness and Education:
- Partnering with the Board of Registrars to host weekly Joint Press conferences in order to update the public on where we are in the process (i.e. ballots received, ballots counted, and ballots remaining.) Each entity shall share theirinvolvement.
- Utilize local media to educate the community on the various steps of the elections process as best we can. With a clear and concise message.
- Utilize Zoom and or other virtual meeting outlets to host Q&A Town Halls for candidates and the public. This willallow for citizens to ask questions and give us the ability to answer them. Normally this open forum is not available during our regular scheduled meetings.
- Establish on election night periodic press and social media updates along with daily press briefings leading up toelections certification.
- It is vital to approach the media as our allies and not as an enemy. The more transparent we are the better our citizens are prepared.
- Security Protecting Employees and the elections process:
- In addition to security camera inspections, law enforcement officials should be present during the counting processand also to provide additional security when ballots are in storage at the Board of elections during the time the office is closed. We should further promote written security policies and procedures that explicitly address the public spaces in the office (i.e. who may enter the area in which counting is being conducted? Where may media personnel and the public gather? Does everyone have identification to enter certain areas?) These measures should be established and communicated clearly.
- Background checks executed on all hired absentee counters/poll workers as already established.
- Absentee ballot counters and poll workers should be adequately trained to ensure they can effectively perform their responsibilities. Review, upgrade and document the worker training process.
- Providing an efficient and expedient process:
- Hire an adequate number of absentee ballot counters to meet the identified workload of 60,000- 75,000 absenteeballots.
- Develop a pool of trained absentee ballot counters who will be “on call” to fill in if hired counters “burn out” especially in this COVID environment.
- Weekend shifts implemented.
- Schedule around the clock counting shifts.
Shift Example: 7AM-4PM
Shift Option 2: 11PM-7AM*For Shift Option 2: Provide Quarter more pay for overnight working conditions.
*Formula: Number of absentee ballot counters needed should be calculated based past experience. If it took X number of counters to process 30,000 ballots in 3-1/2 weeks; how many counters, working around the clock, will it take to process 60,000-75,000 ballots in one week?
Every effort should be made to expeditiously count and tally votes in a manner that is time sensitive yet accurately reflects the wishes of our citizens. Over the past year we’ve passed great and historic local elections reform measures. These include; The John R. Lewis Voter Education Advisory Council and updating our website to allow the public to easily apply to become poll workers, absentee ballot counters, and poll technicians online. We must implement these measures and those outlined in this letter if we hope to improve the confidence of our citizens and keep the integrity of our elections process formidable.
These measures may not be the answer. These ideas and suggestions are all measured approaches to reaching the public and combating misinformation while providing a basic yet informative platform for our citizenry. They are simply suggestions presented for open discussion. A plan should be announced to the public in detail once agreed upon. I cannot expressed how honored and proud I am to serve with all of you, especially during these current moments of public discourse and mistrust. However, I know together we will protect the right to vote for every citizen in Chatham County and execute an efficient election.
Thank you for your support on these significate measures and I look forward to productive conversations in the future.
Antwan T. Lang
Chatham County Board of Elections Member (D)