Protest held over Chatham County absentee ballot count

Protest held over Chatham County absentee ballot count

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Chatham County Board of Elections has certified the County’s June 9 election results, making the results official.

Around 61,000 ballots were cast, roughly twice as many votes as usual.

But before the certification, there was a protest outside the Board of Elections office to bring out what some of the absentee ballot counters say needs to be addressed.

“A couple of us was told that we were a little loud, that we couldn’t talk. How do you go 9 hours not talking? Who does that? If they can talk, we can talk,” said elections worker Tia Brightwell.

Tia Brightwell was one of a group of 10 women helping to process absentee ballots last weekend when she says they were told to leave. All 10 claim Democratic affiliation.

Organizers of Friday’s protest are concerned about the absentee ballot counting process, and says the team was not fairly balanced politically, racially or ideologically. The issues between absentee counters were apparent to several on the Chatham County Board of Elections.

“I attended counting nearly every day this week, and there was tension there, I will say that. There was tension. But it was not one-sided,” said Chatham County BOE member Marianne Heimes.

Without detailing exactly what the tension was, Heimes admitted she thought it was partisan-related.

“I don’t have any idea what their affiliation is, and it doesn’t matter to me as long as they can count ballots and do it properly, and get along.”

Heimes added the Board has a lot of things to look into regarding the staff issues. Her fellow board member, Debbie Rauers, agreed.

“It’s melted down into something that’s made it an unpleasant situation for a lot of people who felt like they were pushed out of the process when they were doing the best they could with the information that they had,” said Rauers.

“I stand up and stand firm in the belief that the people who stood up here today have a point that needs to be heard and needs to be adhered to, and we need to do better,” Rauers continued.

Testimonies from the women who say they were forced out of the absentee ballot processing were also sent to Common Cause, the People’s Agenda and Georgia Democratic Party.

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