Four Precincts in Gwinnett Go Down on Election Day

(NOTE: Machines are now working at Anniston Elementary.) Electronic voting machines in four Gwinnett County polling locations malfunctioned on Election Day, county officials said Tuesday. The yellow cards that voters use to record their votes on each machine were not working with the machines, said Gwinnett County spokesman Joe Sorenson.

Annistown Elementary and Suwanee public library in Suwanee, Harbins Elementary in Dacula and Mount Vernon Baptist in Duluth all had the problem, he said.

Voters were given paper ballots in lieu of an electronic vote. The paper ballots will be considered “regular votes” and not treated as provisional ballots, unless the voter would have otherwise required a provisional ballot, Sorenson said.

Harbins Elementary — Harbins A precinct — is in the 10th congressional district held by Rep. Jody Hice, State Sen. P.K. Martin’s 9th senate district and State Rep. Chuck Efstration’s 104th district, contested by Democrat Andrea Stephenson.

Mount Vernon Baptist — Lawrenceville F — is in the strongly-contested 7th district held by Rep. Rob Woodall, challenged by Democrat Carolyn Bordeaux. It’s also in Martin’s district, and is in former state representative (and GeorgiaPol contributor) Buzz Brockway’s 102nd district, a contest between Democrat Gregg Kennard and Republican Paula Hastings.

Both Suwanee Library and Anniston Elementary — Rockbridge A and G — are is in Rep. Hank Johnson’s 4th congressional district, as well as State Sen. Gloria Butler and State Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick’s seats.

Of Gwinnett County’s 153 precincts, 16 have more than 1,700 black registered voters … including Anniston Elementary and Suwanee Library. Anniston Elementary has the largest number of black voters registered at any precinct in Gwinnett. Suwanee Library is sixth-highest in black voters.

Postscript: I don’t want to level accusations simply based on circumstances. But I want to make a note of the circumstances for future reference.

Georgia’s segregation patterns are deep and broad and voting patterns are racially identifiable here — 90 percent of black voters cast Democratic ballots. While there might be a half a million black voters on this Election Day, I suspect that more than half of them live in fewer than 200 precincts around Georgia. While many live in Fulton and DeKalb and Macon and Savannah, or in the Black Belt communities of middle Georgia, many others live in places like Cobb and Gwinnett — counties with Republican political control.

Mechanically, it would not take a massive effort to materially damage black voting power in a close election like this. If 25 of those precincts had unexpected “equipment failures” today, and that resulted in, say, one in five of those voters being discouraged from voting, that’s about 6,000 fewer votes for Democrats. That would shave about two-tenths of a percent off of her vote totals. Given how close things appear to be, that could be significant.

So, we look for a pattern. I sincerely hope the ACLU and NAACP make a survey of election issues like this for the after action review.

The question for later: Sorenson said to the AJC that these things happen “all the time.” Gwinnett thus has some known equipment issues.

But the bad equipment just … happened … to end up at two polling places with nearly four thousand black voters between them. Who decides which cards go to which polling places? I have known the election director, Lynn Ledford in Gwinnett, for more than a decade and found her to be solid over the years, but she can’t watch everyone. If some junior staffer decided to get ambitious, and made sure the crap cards all went to Snellville …

I’ve asked them the question. We shall see.


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