Authorities in Cobb County, Georgia provided an update on a city council race after it was turned over following the discovery of an overlooked memory card containing uncounted ballots.
Cobb County Communications Director Ross Cavitt confirmed to the Cobb Courier Tuesday that candidate Lynette Burnette won the Kennesaw City Council Post 1 special election after a recount.
Days earlier, officials certified her opponent Madelyn Orochena the winner. However, it was discovered that staff had not uploaded a memory card from a district containing nearly 800 ballots, ultimately giving Burnette the lead.
“The recertification was necessary after employees discovered that a memory card had not been included in the previous results. The additional ballots resulted in an amendment to the Kennesaw City Council Post 1 Special Election,” according to a Cobb County news release.
A recount of the race was conducted from November 20, a press release said.
“I’ve been following city elections since 1972. fifty years. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Councilor Pat Ferris told the Cobb County Courier of the final result.
Another official, Cobb County Elections Commissioner Janine Eveler, told the newspaper that the memory card was never lost and was returned on the night of November 8. An employee did not follow the rules, she said.
“We have a checklist in the recipient group that opens the bag, checks the seal, opens the bag and counts that the memory cards have been returned. So in this case, they have a checklist that says there is either one scanner or two scanners at that polling station,” Eveler noted. “In this case, the recipient checked the checklist: There were two memory cards.”
She added: “They marked two on her checklist and gave them to the person who uploaded them to the tabulation machine…she didn’t check her checklist that was there [were] two and reached into his pocket, pulled out a memory card and uploaded it, put that card back in his pocket and handed it to another worker.”
Last week, Orochena wrote in a Facebook post that she would file a complaint with the Georgian Foreign Minister’s office about the incident. She previously announced her win but later wrote that she found out about the memory card issue that turned her race around.
“I planned to celebrate with family, friends and supporters afterwards,” she told WSB-TV. “We had no reason to expect otherwise.” Orochena added that now she is “just doing whatever I can to regain some confidence that this was a fair election.”
According to local news outlets, Cobb election officials said the memory card was in Kennesaw as workers prepared for an election exam. No details were given as to why the card was overlooked or where it was located.