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Georgia's elections mess | State still at odds with county elections offices about fixing problems

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond told 11Alive News that both sides should stop finger-pointing and work together. The Secretary of State is talking tough instead.

ATLANTA — Georgia now holds the dubious distinction of being the nation’s worst example of disruptively serious elections problems.

The issues on Tuesday forced thousands of Georgia voters to wait in lines so long and slow, that in some cases voters were still in line during the midnight hours. Many gave up and went home without voting.

But there are now calls for cooperation and solutions, and there are investigations about to get underway, to make sure the next big election, the one coming up in November, goes smoothly.

The CEO of DeKalb County, Michael Thurmond, for one, said of the problems: “Never again.”

“If people were forced to walk away from the polling place, then their vote was suppressed,” Thurmond said Wednesday.

ELECTION RESULTS: Click here to see the numbers 

Thurmond and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had been blaming each other—was it all the county’s fault, or the state’s fault?

However, Thurmond said he hopes to meet with Raffensperger in the next couple of days to work out how the two of them can work together, to repair the voting process before November—for the voters.

“We have to move beyond finger-pointing and partisan politics, and put the best interests of the voters first,” Thurmond said.

11Alive was not able to reach Raffensperger on Wednesday. However, he emailed a statement to 11Alive, insisting the counties are legally responsible to conduct elections, so they are to blame for Tuesday’s problems.

RELATED: Secretary of State on Georgia's primary election: It's clear some counties continue to not perform

He wrote that he will ask the state legislature to give him the power “to intervene and look into failing (county) elections offices, when it is clear there are continued failures.”

Atlanta voting rights activist and attorney Mo Ivory told 11Alive that she believes the solutions must start at the top, with Raffensperger.

“You’re in charge of elections,” Ivory said of Raffensperger. “If you don’t give the resources to the counties, to be able to train the workers, to be able to have enough ballots for everybody, then how do you expect the system to get better? Do your job!”

RELATED: Problems voting Tuesday spanned multiple Georgia counties

State and county investigations into Tuesday’s voting mess are about to get underway.

“It’s incumbent, now, on state and local leaders to do a deep dive assessment as to what went wrong” on Tuesday, Thurmond said. "Where the problems are, how we can address those problems, and ensure that these issues don’t occur again. DeKalb County, and the state of Georgia, will have to do a better job of working together, communicating."

"And that’s not true just for DeKalb, it’s true for every county in the state of Georgia," he added. "So I call upon all of my colleagues at the state and local and federal level to rise above whatever divisions we have, and do what’s right for the citizens of our state.”

The clock is ticking. The primary runoff is August 11, and early voting for November begins four months from now.

Read Raffensperger's full statement here.


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