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Poll Day Testimony to Primary Elections Investigative Hearing

By Carry Smith

CCDC Member and District 2 Post Seat Holder Carry Smith provided testimony during the Primary Elections Investigate Hearing in support of a solutions to improve projected needs for Poll Day for the November 2020 Elections.

Dear Rep. Rhonda Burrough, Rep. J, Collins, Rep, Barry Fleming et al. and Members of Governmental Affairs Committee:

By way of introduction I am Carry J. Smith, ABD. I am a Ph.D. Student at Clark Atlanta University. I am writing my Dissertation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. I moved back to Savannah, Georgia in 2017.
Since the 2018 Georgia General Election Run-off, I have served in the capacity as a Poll Manager for the Chatham County Board of Elections (BOE). For the last four (4) elections cycles, in Precinct, 8-09c, Moses Jackson Golden Age Center at 1410 B. Richard Street, Savannah, Georgia.
Poll Managers were required to attend three trainings for the June 9th Election. I was required to attend two thorough Poll Manager trainings prior to the 2020 Presidential Choice Primary Election. I attended another third required training May 29th at the Southwest Library, which the BOE Trainer discussed special considerations for (1) the use of Personal Protections Equipment, (2) Preparedness for Cancellation of Absentee Ballots, (3) Proper Use of Emergency Ballots Vs. Provisional Ballots, (4) Absentee Ballot Submission at the BOE Headquarters at 1117 Eisenhower Dr., Savannah, GA 31419, and (5) Use of new Ballot machines, printers, Tablets, Voter Cards, PPEs, and Ballot Submission to Scanners. Etc. I was required to attend the 4-hour training & was thorough. The Three Trainings did not cover set-up or breakdown of ballot machines, printers, and tablets, etc.
On June 8, 2020 I worked as an Absentee Ballot Worker Personnel from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Equipment for Moses Jackson, Precinct 8-09c was not ready for pick-up until 8:00pm on Junes 8, 2020. I called staff to confirm attendance at noon on June 8, 2020, upon receiving a final list of 8-09c staff given by BOE-Secretary. I personally observed three Poll Managers waiting from 4:00pm to 7:00pm for their Precinct Poll Equipment. Previously, Poll Equipment was ready for pick-up the night before the election from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. I was unable to reach Moses Jackson Golden Age Center for set-up on June 8, 2020 at 8:00pm.
     I arrived at Moses Jackson Golden Age Center for set-up on June 8, 2020 at 6:15am. Two Assistant Managers, and one Clerk was present. We set-up two Poll Machines, which would not communicate with the printers, causing an “Error” to display on each Poll Machine. The Technician’s Number for troubleshooting was not provided in the Poll Manager’s Binder. During this time, Poll Manager & Assistant at Precinct 8-08c contacted me, and I was advised on set-up & functions.
     Polls opened at 8-09c at 7:00am. Emergency -Paper ballots were used from 7:00am to 10:00am. Assistant Manager & Manager (myself) were unable to reach BOE or BOE-Supervisor. I contacted Board of Elections to report issue of reaching Technicians (not provided in Binder), BOE or BOE-Supervisor. Board of Elections Representative was able to provide Technician’s number, and BOE-Supervisor responded quickly.
     I requested additional Emergency paper ballots, whereas, Assistant Managers traveled BOE to retrieve additional supply of Emergency-paper ballots until Technician arrived. Technician covered 10 total precincts. Technician had to bring additional three-pronged adapters, and cords. Total of two (2) outlets did not work. Community member present to voter gave Poll an additional surge protector for Tablets at front check-in.
     Officially, Poll machines at 8-09c were opened at 10:00am. Poll 8-09c did not turn any voters away or close during process of retrieving additional Emergency-paper ballots and Poll Machines officially opening Poll 8-09c.
     Poll 8-09c was open until 9:00pm on June 9, 2020. Closing commenced from 9:00pm to 10:00pm. I arrived back to headquarters to finish paperwork and distribute equipment for closing from 10:00pm to 11:30pm.
     Upon personal observations and hearing community solutions, these are our following recommendations:

  • Training to include set-up and take-down of all equipment.
  • Training to include use of Emergency Ballots Vs. Proper training of Provisional Ballots, whereas many Poll Manager in Chatham County incorrectly made use of limited elections on Provisional Ballots, vs. full elections specific to precinct by party for “full elections.”
  • Whereas many Poll Managers refused or failed to call Voter Registration office to cancel Ballots and issued Provisional Ballots in place of “canceling Absentee Ballots,” training should provide thorough training for Standards of Operating Procedure to properly cancel Absentee Ballots and issue Voter Cards.
  • BOE needs to provide and recruit an additional 20 Technicians to work 3 to 4 Polls, in place of 20 Technicians covering 10 Polling-Precincts for a total of 92 Precincts. Additional Back-up Technicians should provide additional personnel and recruit for Opening and Closing of Polls to provide needed technical assistance.
  • Each Voter Precinct should be qualified by State BOE & County BOE for electrical outlets, heating & air-conditioning, and qualified to meet all standards necessary to operate effectively on election day elections. Qualifications should be shared with community and poll managers.
  • Poll Managers & Technicians should set-up equipment 24 hours in advance.
  • Poll Kits should include ample & additional three-pronged electrical-adapters and extension cords.
  • Chatham County BOE & Voter Registration should have an additional specified hotline for Poll Managers & Staff specific for Election Day only for Elections Staff to contact proper chains of command for troubleshooting and equipment errors, and/or other emergencies.

     I urge you to support and learn the true issues associated with all concerns addressed by Elections’ Day staff throughout the State of Georgia. Thank you for your consideration.

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