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State still investigating Habersham
Several reported violations in July election means polls may be monitored
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Habersham County voters go to the polls today as questions about the operations of the county’s elections office remain unresolved.

The State Elections Board in December forwarded an investigation by the Secretary of State’s office to the Attorney General’s office for action.

The report, which revealed a number of irregularities in the June 19, 2007, special election and the July 17, 2007, runoff, showed problems with security of both electronic voting machines and computers where voter information is stored.

In Habersham, Probate Judge Ann Adams Jarrell serves as election superintendent, a common practice in smaller counties.

The Secretary of State’s office, in its report, said Jarrell did not become certified as an election official by the Jan. 1, 2007, deadline. Certification is attained by completing required education courses.

The report said Jarrell did not have ExpressPoll units, which contain voter information and are used to program ballots onto a memory card, properly secured as they were transported to the polling places.

Other potential violations included having untrained poll workers serve during the 2006 and 2007 elections cycle and failing to have systems in place for voters with disabilities.

When not in use, the voting machines and accessories were not stored in a locked room and were accessible to unauthorized personnel. The report also said the storage area did not have electronic surveillance or secure the units with a cable or chain secured by a padlock.

Reached by telephone on Monday, Jarrell referred The Times to her attorney, Douglas McDonald, who did not return calls seeking comment.

Russ Willard, a spokesman for Attorney General Thurbert Baker, said cases that are referred to the attorney general’s office are heard by an administrative law judge and the process typically takes six months before the case is heard.

Matt Carrothers, a spokesman for Secretary of State Karen Handel said the state would have a number of elections officials on duty throughout the state today with the ability to respond to a problem within an hour. The report indicates that investigators directly monitored elections in Habersham last year.

 

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