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Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had sharply critical words for Fulton County election officials Tuesday after a ballot-scanning problem arose over the weekend.
Almost 50 other Georgia counties are done with their recount in the November presidential election ahead of Wednesday’s midnight deadline, but Fulton County is taking the longest.
Fulton officials have said the county will meet its deadline despite a server crash.
“It’s somewhat typical for what we’re seeing from Fulton, both recently and really for the last 15 to 25 years,” Raffensperger said. “The real issue is a Fulton County employee made several compounding errors. The biggest was, instead of following the procedures my office and the vendor laid out, Fulton County once again cut corners.”
According to the secretary of state’s office, Fulton County officials did not back up the data from ballot-scanning machines to an external server, preventing hundreds of thousands of ballots from being uploaded.
Those ballots are now being re-scanned, which will require Fulton employees to work until 11 p.m. Tuesday and until they finish Wednesday.
Fulton County Chairman Robb Pitts pushed back in response to the secretary of state’s comments, blaming the delay on a server crash without getting into technicalities.
“We had two servers; one broke,” Pitts said. “All I know is that there was a crash. Fulton County employees did not crash; the server crashed. And that server was a secretary of state and manufacturer server, it was not a server of Fulton County.”
Technicians from Dominion, the voting-machine manufacturer, are on site to assist with the issue.
It’s the latest moment in a series of tense ones between the secretary of state’s office and Fulton County. The state investigated the county’s handling of absentee ballots after the June primary.
Raffensperger also criticized Fulton election officials for deciding to stop work at 4:45 p.m. Sunday and 5 p.m. Monday, forcing them to work late Tuesday and Wednesday.
“They can still make it by our midnight Wednesday deadline, but they seem to want to make it a dramatic finish,” Raffensperger said.
“And I think us in our office, and I think really the rest of the state, is getting a little tired of always having to wait on Fulton.”
The secretary of state’s office provided six additional scanners to Fulton to increase their efficiency, but, according to Raffensperger, only eight of the 17 were in use Tuesday morning due to staffing shortages.
In response to Raffensperger’s comment about a staffing shortage, Pitts said, “Look around, and if we need more, we have more.”
He said they’ve been following the procedure advised by the state and promised Fulton will have no problem finishing by the deadline.
“We are not cutting it close. We are confident that we will meet the schedule that was set by the secretary of state,” Pitts said. “We had planned to finish early but for the server crashing. We were 88% complete when the server crashed.”