DeKalb election workers hand count ballots in District 2 commission race

Sixty workers painstakingly counted thousands of primary ballots by hand inside an unair-conditioned DeKalb County warehouse off Memorial Drive Monday.

DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections Director Keisha Smith said they made the decision to hand count the ballots Saturday after a candidate in the District 2 commission race alerted them to a tabulation issue.

"We definitely feel that this is the best course of action," said Smith.

Michelle Long Spears, one of three Democrats in the race, said her campaign team alerted her the morning after the primary that the poll tape posted outside one precinct showed she had not gotten a single vote.


Spears said she then went to multiple precincts around the district and discovered the same thing--while the poll tapes showed votes for Lauren Alexander, Marshall Orson, and Donald Broussard, who dropped out of the race, they all listed zeros next to her name.

"All I have to say is my husband and I voted at the precinct for myself and when I showed up and it showed zero votes from myself, that was rather alarming," said Spears.

Spears notified DeKalb County officials, who now believe that Broussard's withdrawal from the race triggered some sort of electronic tabulation issue.

"I am absolutely thrilled that they are doing the hand count and I certainly have confidence that they'll get to the bottom of this," said Spears.

The unofficial primary results released May 25 showed Alexander with 34.67% of the vote, Orson with 41.35% and Spears with 23.98%. Since none of the candidates met the 50% threshold, the race will likely head to a runoff, though it is not clear just how much the hand count may change those numbers and who may ultimately end up in a runoff.

The state deadline to certify election results is Tuesday and Smith said they have worked diligently to meet it.

"I really do want to thank everyone that is here," said Smith. "We have residents of DeKalb. We have poll workers. We have our staff. All of the men and women that are working took out the time to come this holiday weekend to assist us in our efforts. So, it just speaks to the spirit of my team and to the commitment that we have to get the accurate results."