With the Board of Elections validating the votes on Friday, I want to thank everyone who voted for me. Receiving nearly 68% of the votes is a strong indicator that my emphasis on programs focused on quality of life and ensuring that everyone can safely work, live, play and pursue their dreams in Cobb County resonate with Republican voters. Now on to November.
As I saw in my participation in the Juneteenth march on Friday, change is in the air. How we respond to them as a community may best determine our future as a County. I have no doubt, however, that social and political pressure will produce changes. Some may not go far enough in the minds of many and some may go too far for others. Because passions are high in different corners arriving at acceptable solutions may be difficult. But the effort must be made because non-violent answers come through avenues where voices are heard and respected.
One of these channels is the ballot box. There has been significant controversy about the new voting system and there is a consensus that it has failed its first test. That may be true but the answer would depend upon the metric or metrics for success? Is it a system that guarantees your vote is counted? Is it one that produces results in a timely basis? Does it have sufficient options that permits voting for all? Perhaps the system is one that encompasses all of the variables. Following up on my comments last week voicing my displeasure about comments that he made about poll workers, I spoke with the Secretary of State Raffensperger on Thursday about future elections. I believe we both made our points. I did acknowledge that my words made his already difficult responsibility even harder and apologized. He graciously accepted which allowed us to move forward by agreeing that we needed to work together to find solutions.
In the end, if there is to be optimism in the future, there has to be respect for differing opinions. In a recent Around Town, comments by State Representative David Wilkerson might have led some to believe that he and I are on different sides of the same issue. I prefer to look through the lens that we both want to arrive at the same place but we don’t agree on the route to get there. We both concur that there need to be more drop boxes and use of funds from the CARES legislation to address some of the shortfalls. Notably the Board of Commissioners has already approved the use of CARES funds to increase compensation for poll workers. Furthermore, the Board has a record of fully funding the cost of all elections and recently approved the purchase of a new building to house election operations. Likewise, I am confident that the Cobb delegation will work with the State legislature to identify funds for extra machines, technical workers, and the drop boxes which must be special ordered.
Let’s end on a high note. There were more than 100,000 absentee ballots cast. Everyone was the result of successful absentee ballot application. The results reflected the Get Out the Vote effort by a broad spectrum of people who believe in change through the ballot box. One certain way that change will peacefully come is by voting in November. I served in the Marines for nearly 30 years to protect that freedom. I treasure it profoundly. ...
I am appreciative of all those who supported our campaign that led to our victory in the Republican primary last Tuesday.
At least I believe I won because as of tonight, Sunday, all the ballots have not been counted.
In more time than it took for the allied ground campaign in 1991 to retake Kuwait of which I was part, we still do not have a validated count.
In 3 countries in which I deployed or resided—Iraq, Macedonia, and Turkey—all had completed their national count in less time that it has required for us to tally our county vote.
The failure is so monumental it defies belief. Worse it has given credence to those who argue that there is voter suppression in Georgia. If there is any, it is an indirect result of people giving up and not voting at a precinct because the wait was so long. Or, because they bought the narrative that an absentee ballot would not be counted, waited in line, and gave up. Approximately 11K people applied for an absentee ballot, changed their minds, and came to vote on Tuesday. Every ballot had to be processed separately which added to the lines and wait.
The ominous implications for the general election in November when there historically 2 or 3 times as many voters are self-evident.
There are issues at many layers that need to be addressed and immediately. Many of the solutions will require additional funding. More machines would be helpful although there may not be enough time to procure them. But we have to bear in mind that these machines have more components and hence more time is need for each voter to cast their vote. More responsive technical support is essential. Tens of thousands of absentee ballots were submitted. The County started counting the week before the primary and processed 20K+ of them. Earlier counting of these ballots would help. One option would be to count the ballots as soon as we receive them.
More poll workers are needed but I suspect the pandemic will continue to influence the number of volunteers. County staff volunteered in many instances but we need to look at how we can use other members of the staff to address the anticipated shortfall of poll workers.
The final bill is still unknown and the State expects us to pay it. Our obligation to fund the cost of a secure election is clear. But I suspect that this is one bill that may rankle for a long time if we have to bear it alone. ...
I am in total agreement that the secretary of state needs to take control of the situation. There is no time for finger pointing and blame. Instead of looking backward we need to be proactive to ensure better results in November. SoS needs to make all available state resources so every county can fulfill its responsibilities.
Clearly, a lot of people like voting absentee. Assume there is technology that would allow those votes to be counted more quickly. Is there time to get some of that on board by November?