By Rebecca Gaunt
Voters said they were frustrated at the polls this week when they tried to vote for the Post 4 Cobb school board race between Republican incumbent David Chastain and Democrat Catherine Pozniak, but the race did not appear on the ballot.
According to officials, more than 1,100 voters were incorrectly coded into Post 4 when they should have been in Post 5. Those records were corrected Friday, but advance voting began the previous Monday. Some absentee ballots are also affected.
Janine Eveler, director of Cobb County elections, told the Courier, “We discovered a redistricting error that went undetected in the Primary. The Sandy Plains 01 precinct was coded in district 4 when actually some of the precinct should have been in district 5. On Friday, we made corrections and now we are going back through to determine the impact. For those that already voted in person or whose absentee ballot has been accepted, there is nothing we can do. Those votes will count. If they were issued an absentee ballot, we will try to cancel and reissue.”
According to Eveler, 111 people already voted in the wrong district.
Julie, a voter affected by the change, spoke to the Courier Tuesday. She asked to keep her last name private.
She was aware there were discrepancies on the ballots of her neighbors before she went to vote Monday. When she received her voter card in the mail earlier this year, she was in Post 4. When she went online to check yesterday, she was in Post 5. She called the Cobb County elections office for clarification.
She said the person she spoke with first told her the changes occurred in March.
Julie said, “I said I know it wasn’t. I know there’s a digital footprint. You need to tell me when it was changed because there’s a digital footprint. At that point, she said it was changed on the 21st.”
After that, Julie said she was unable to get anyone to give her additional information or an explanation for the change.
When she went to vote, Julie said her information was checked and changed manually by a poll worker. One of her neighbors was voting at the same time and still incorrectly received a ballot with Post 4.
Other voters have also reported that the secretary of state’s My Voter Page changed this week to reflect they are in Post 5 and that the Post 4 race is not on their ballot as expected. In some cases, a person who voted in the Post 4 race last week, said someone from their household did not have Post 4 on the ballot this week. Another voter told the Courier that their SOS MVP page changed to Post 5, but they still received a ballot with Post 4.
The lines for the Cobb County Board of Education underwent controversial redistricting earlier this year. The race for Post 4 is under intense scrutiny because it has the potential to flip a strained board from a Republican to Democratic majority.
Republican David Banks holds the Post 5 seat and is not up for reelection until 2024.
Pozniak posted on her Facebook page about the reported problem.
“If this applies to you, I ask that you document this issue for your records, including keeping the hard copy of your voter registration card you received in the mail that shows you were districted to School Board Post 4. This is likely not going to get resolved until after the election. In the meantime, it is absolutely essential that EVERY. VOTER. VOTES. Vote early and document, document, document like our democracy depends on it. Because it does,” she wrote.
Anyone who receives a ballot they believe to be incorrect should report it immediately to a poll worker.
Chastain did not respond to a request for comment.
Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.