MARIETTA, Ga. -- An investigation is underway after a thief broke into a Cobb County poll worker's car and stole election equipment used to check voters' information before they cast ballots.

According to the Cobb County Election Supervisor Janine Eveler, a poll manager had picked up the equipment from a preparation center Saturday evening before stopping at a Kroger grocery store off Canton Road in Marietta.

While the poll manager was inside the store, an unknown person drove up, saw the equipment in the car and took it. Police and the Secretary of State's office, which wasn't notified until Monday morning, are now investigating the incident.

Eveler told 11Alive's Chris Hopper that the equipment, which are basically "electronic poll books," hold lists of people that are eligible to vote at the precinct and are not used in any way for voting or vote tabulation. Eveler said it would be really hard to access the information contained because the person who stole it would have to manually type in the name of someone registered as a Cobb County voter for that specific precinct.

The equipment, Eveler assured, has been "rendered useless," because the county has reworked the system to make sure the stolen ones are incompatible and can no longer "talk" to the other equipment that will be used on election day.

According to Eveler, there was previously no policy in place prohibiting Cobb poll workers from stopping if they happened to be carrying election equipment, however it is policy to not leave the equipment in a vehicle. She said poll workers are encouraged to go straight home; that will likely be the policy from now on.

Meanwhile, Eveler told 11Alive that the poll manager who left the equipment inside the car could potentially face punishment, however she said the county's first priority is the election and the situation will be dealt with after voting is over.

When 11Alive asked Eveler about waiting to notify authorities about the theft, she said in hindsight, she would have alerted them sooner.

11Alive reached out to the Secretary of State Brian Kemp's office for a comment on the matter, who stated that they are "furious." The office is conducting a formal investigation and will send their findings to the State Elections Board one they are complete. The Secretary of State's office said they believe the integrity of Tuesday's election remains intact, but said there could be repercussions for Cobb County.

This all comes just hours before polls open for a special election that will decide who will represent Georgia's 6th District in Congress. The seat was left vacant by former Rep. Tom Price after he was nominated to be President Trump's Secretary of Health and Human Services. More than a dozen candidates made a run for the seat, which saw Democrat Jon Ossoff leading the polls for the position that has been Republican for several years.

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Voters will make their decision on the new representative Tuesday night.

11Alive will be bringing special coverage of the election. Catch up on our extensive digital coverage at 11alive.com/local/ballot.

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