By Tia Lynn Ivey
Never in Morgan County’s history have election results been delayed overnight, but there’s a first for everything. Local election officials were weary late Tuesday night, hours after the polls closed for the 2020 Primary Election, which include a slew of local, state, and federal races.
Approximately half the vote was uncounted at midnight Tuesday due to tabulation malfunctions with Georgia’s new voting machines.
According to Morgan County Election Supervisor Jennifer Doran, preliminary results for the election will not be ready until sometime Wednesday, June 10, and final results by Thursday or Friday.
“We are going to keep working at it tonight unless we pass out,” said an exhausted Doran Tuesday, just shy of midnight.
About 3,400 voters from early voting and Election Day were tallied Tuesday evening, but more than 3,000 absentee votes had not been tabulated.
“At this point, the results could change drastically since the absentee ballots making up nearly half of the vote,” explained Doran. Several hours after the polls closed, election officials barely made a dent in scanning the 3,000 absentee ballots.
“We have 2,800 left to scan,” said Doran just before midnight on Tuesday night.
According to Doran, the absentee ballots could not be counted Tuesday night because of repeated scanner malfunctions. Georgia new voting machines require ballots to be scanned in order to be tabulated. With only one scanner, the count was already slow-going, said Doran. But then more complications threw a wrench into the tabulation. According to Doran, the main reason for the delay was the scanner malfunctions.
“The scanner was getting jammed with each ballot entry because voters accidentally tore off part of the ballot itself when tearing off the stub on top of the ballot,” explained Doran.
Doran noted the new voting system coupled with a shortage of poll workers and a worldwide pandemic and a freak storm, contributed to the election results being delayed.
“We have a lot of challenges with a whole different type of election this year,” said Doran. “We have new equipment, poll worker shortages, a pandemic and thunder storms today that wreaked havoc on our power in a couple of the precincts.”
Two precincts lost power Tuesday afternoon, but the battery backup for the voting machines allowed voting to continue.
“We were still able to continue processing voters, but it slowed us down quite a bit,” said Doran.
Two precincts power outages, however because the equipment has battery backup we were still able to continue to processing voter but it did slow down a bit.
As of Tuesday night, voting results for Morgan County’s seven precincts are as follows for the contested local races. These results are not final and could change drastically once the 3,000-plus absentee ballots are counted.
Two Republican newcomers are neck and neck the County Commissioner District 5 Seat. Bill Kurtz earned 325 votes while Grant Catterton trails behind him with 274 votes. Whoever wins will take retiring Commissioner Ron Milton’s place on the Morgan County Board of Commissioners this January.
Republican Incumbent Sheriff Robert Markley earned 2,096 votes as of Tuesday evening, while his challenger Kenny Stewart, a Republican, earned 708 votes.
Republican Joe Slaughter, who is running for the District 2 Board of Education seat earned 622 votes. Slaughter’s challenger, Independent Kathryn Cardwell, is still garnering signatures to have her name placed on the ballot for the November election.
Republican Brad Hawk, who is running for the Board of Education District 3 Seat, received 515 votes. Ann Ballard, a Democrat running for the Board of Education District 3 Seat, earned 85 votes.
Two republicans are facing off for the County Tax Commissioner position. So far, Wendy Coe, a Republican, earned 2,042 votes and Sheree Moon Evans, a Republican, earned 647 votes. Shelia Terrell Sanders, a Democrat, also running for County Tax Commissioner earned 546 votes thus far.
Candidates running unopposed earned the following amount of votes as of Tuesday evening.
County Commissioner for District 3 Ben Riden, Republican incumbent, earned 517 votes thus far. District 4 County Commissioner Philipp von Hanstein, incumbent Republican, earned 490 votes. Board of Education District 1 Representative Cheryl Bland, incumbent Democrat, earned 194 votes so far.
Probate Judge Charles Merritt earned 3,097 votes thus far. Chief Magistrate Judge Connie Holt earned 3,064 votes as of Tuesday night.
Coroner Adam Carter earned 2,598 votes.
The Morgan County Citizen will publish the preliminary results and final results as soon as they become available for all local, state, and federal on our website at www.morgancountycitizen.com. We will also post the results on our Facebook page. To see election results thus far, visit: https://results.enr.clarityelections.com/GA/Morgan/103718/web.247524/#/summary.