By Rebecca Gaunt
Voters found a redistricting error during the last week of advance voting that placed 121 voters into Cobb County school board Post 2 who should have been in Post 6.
Democrat Becky Sayler and Republican Stephen George are running for Post 2. Democrat Nichelle Davis is running opposed for Post 6.
The problem has been corrected, but 19 voters already cast a ballot during advance voting and three absentee ballots have been received.
Janine Eveler, director of Cobb County elections, told the Courier, “The short turnaround for redistricting of our entire county, as well as four temporary cityhood districts, has definitely contributed to these errors. They were human errors, but due to the workload there was not as much oversight for newer employees as we needed. We were stretched thin.”
In February, Eveler wrote to Deputy County Manager Jimmy Gisi that she was concerned about the Cobb elections office meeting the secretary of state’s Feb. 18 deadline to complete redistricting. In addition, there was a special election for House District 45, taking place under the old district lines.
She requested the cityhood referendums, which also required special ballots within the proposed city boundaries, not take place until November. Despite the severe staffing turnover she cited in the letter, her request was not granted.
“The Georgia Election Official Association went so far as to request that the Primary be delayed until June to account for redistricting,” Eveler said. “That did not happen. The same employee made the two errors, so we went back through all of her worksheets. Everything we know of has been corrected.”
Because the deadline has passed to contest the results of the primary election, the elections office will not be reviewing those results.
While Sayler beat Andres Sandate in the Democratic primary by 555 votes, the margin between George and Anthony Sears in the Republican primary was only 115 votes.
Sayler first drew attention to the problem Sunday after speaking with voters who thought they were in Post 6 based on the maps, but were listed on the secretary of state’s My Voter Page as Post 2. She alerted Eveler in an email.
An error affecting more than 1,000 voters related to the Post 4 school board race between Republican David Chastain and Democrat Catherine Pozniak was discovered the first week of advance voting.
There were also ballots missing the cityhood referendum questions for some voters in the Mableton, East Cobb, and Lost Mountain cityhood referendums.
Jaha Howard currently holds the school board Post 2 seat and Charisse Davis holds Post 6, both under the old boundaries. Neither ran for re-election.
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.