Fran Davis, director of Elections and Registration, told Oconee County Republicans that she does not believe voter fraud exists in Georgia, based on her experience in Oconee County.
She also said she believes the election system is secure because of the “checks and balances” built into it.
Davis said the most recent election has produced a lot of news coverage of election issues in the state and a lot of “misinformation.”
She used her role as feature speaker at the final meeting of the year of the Oconee County Republican Committee to explain how her office works and responded to the questions that were raised during the election.
Davis, who has been in her position since March but has worked in the county Elections and Registration Office for more than 12 years, was about to run her fourth election–the Dec. 4 runoff election--when she spoke to the Oconee County Republicans on Nov. 29.
She praised the county for its high turnout in elections, explained how her office handles elections, and detailed how results are posted when the ballots come back to her office from the polling locations.
She spent most of the nearly 50 minutes she spoke dealing with issues surrounding the most recent election.
An audience of 18 had turned out at the Chamber of Commerce in Watkinsville for the presentation.
Davis said the issue of purged voters “has come up a lot in the news” and there was a lot of “misinformation” about what it meant to be purged.
The Secretary of State Office identifies voters who have not voted in two general elections, Davis explained, and her office then sends out what she called “confirmation letters” to those voters.
If the voter makes no contact, she or he remains on the voter list for another four years before being removed from the list entirely, Davis explained.
A voter who has been removed from the list after what could be 8 years of inactivity must register again to be able to vote, she said.
To keep the voter roster up-to-date, Davis said, she and her staff “work those records, every day, every week” using information from the Probate Office, from the state, and from family members to identify people who have moved or passed away.
“We make sure our rolls are correct,” Davis said. “We make sure people’s addresses are right. We make sure we have voter registration cards. We go back and check. There’s a lot to do when we don’t have any election.”
“The voter has a lot of responsibility in this as well,” Davis said, “to keep us informed of where they are.”
After someone registers to vote, Davis said, the registration data are checked against social security registration and against drivers’ licenses.
“If for some reason some of your information doesn’t match, you’ll pop out and you’ll go into a pending status,” she said.
Her office then gets in touch with these people and tells them they have to help address any discrepancies.
If a question remains, the individual will have to show naturalization papers, Davis said.
“I’m happy to say, as far as I know, we did not have one complaint from the state, that anybody forwarded to the state, for us for our election,” Davis said.
Davis said that a person who turns up to vote but whose name does not appear on the voter list is given a paper, provisional ballot to fill out.
“Everybody deserves a right to vote. We’re not going to turn anybody away,” Davis said. “Our theme is, when in doubt, give it out.”
Davis said her office has until the Friday after the election to determine if the provisional ballot should be counted.
In the Nov. 6 election, Davis said, she had only 20 ballots that needed to be verified.
Davis had told me earlier than 12 of these ultimately were accepted.
Consistent with what she had told me after the election, Davis said at the Nov. 29 Republican meeting that most of the problems developed when people voted in the wrong precinct within Oconee County or were registered in another county.
Votes of the Oconee County residents were counted, while those of voters from other counties were not.
“In your opinion, is it possible in the state of Georgia, where somebody, the government or whatever, could actually take away votes or add votes to an election?” Oconee County Commissioner Chuck Horton asked Davis.
“I have my opinion and it is very strong,” Davis said. “Mine is absolutely no.
“The reason I say that is because we have so many checks and balances in place that it would be awfully difficult for that to happen.”
Among the checks and balances Davis mentioned are that the number of votes on machines have to match voter certificates, three people watch as paper ballots are run through the machine, and her office keeps records on the number of ballots mailed out and the number that come back.
Davis said she personally tests each of the voting machines to make sure it is recording what she inputs.
Davis said she also believes the data base of registered voters in the state maintained by the Secretary of State Office is secure.
At least as far as her local office is concerned, she said, there is “no way” that a security threat exists.
“The Secretary of State is over us. That is our boss,” Davis said. But the state has 159 separate election offices, one for each county, she said.
“We all are supposed to do the same thing. We are supposed to have the same process,” she said. “It is up to us, it is up to me, it is on my shoulders, how things run, how smoothly they run.”
Davis said she expects the state to start using paper ballots in the future.
“Our machines are old,” she said. “They do need to be upgraded a little bit technologically.”
Davis said she expects that the new machines will produce a paper ballot that the voter can check before she or he scans it into the system for counting.
The video below is of the Nov. 29, 2018, meeting of the Oconee County Republicans, held at the Chamber of Commerce in Watkinsville.
Second Vice Chair Vince Frankson presided.
Frankson did not ask me to turn off the camera at any point, so the entire meeting is included in the video.
Davis began speaking at 2:42 in the video.