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Special election ballots for Gainesville, Buford incorrect; fix in the works
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Gainesville and Buford residents have been getting incorrect ballots for the March 24 presidential preference primary and special election, but a fix is in the works, Hall County officials said Tuesday, March 3.

With early voting starting Monday, March 2, residents in those cities are being asked to vote on the Hall County Schools $258 million bond referendum, a ballot question that should be reserved only for residents in Hall County school districts.

Gainesville residents should be voting only on the Gainesville City Schools $83 million bond referendum.

Gainesville, Buford and Hall County residents are all voting on the education special purpose local option sales tax, which, if approved, would continue an additional penny per dollar on the sales tax.

The Times inquired about the issue after receiving a tip from a voter.

“It was simply an internal mistake,” Hall County Administrator Jock Connell said.

Officials said they will be able to correct the ballots through the Georgia Secretary of State’s office after votes are in March 24, so that Gainesville and Buford votes on the Hall bond referendum won’t be counted.

“We’re so thankful there is a solution,” said Tom Smiley, Hall County Elections Board chairman. “If it wasn’t resolvable, it would be a problem.”
A future task will be to “look into how to make sure that kind of mistake doesn’t happen again,” he said. “We’ll just discuss it and see where that leads us. I can tell you … we’ve got really good people working for us. I know them, I trust them, (but) sometimes mistakes happen.”

Will Schofield, Hall County Schools superintendent, described the solution as “straightforward” and said, “The election results will not be affected. We are satisfied with the resolution.”

Jeremy Williams, Gainesville City Schools superintendent, said that while the mixup “may lead to some confusion if you’re a city resident, we have confidence in the team and the solution.”

He added: “We are looking forward to a great turnout later this month.”