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Fulton sends wrong locations in letters

11/7/2016

Fulton sends wrong locations in
letters

Mailers listed incorrect polling places for voters in mixup,
official says.

By Arielle Kass akass@ajc.com

In an effort to make sure Fulton County voters arrive at the
right polling location on election day, the county sent letters this week to
the household of each registered voter.

The mailers cost more than $101,000 to send to nearly 295,000 households.
But, after the letters went out Tuesday, complaints started coming in.

"The location they listed for my assigned polling place on election day was wrong," Susan White wrote to The Atlanta
Journal-Constitution.

All told, 23,789 mailers - or 8 percent of the 294,169 letters
sent - list the wrong voting locations because of a mixup. The county wanted
to reach households; the vendor that sent the letters concentrated on
individuals.

Here's what the county wanted to do: inform households of
their assigned precincts. Even if voters once registered at that address had
moved, the precinct information would remain correct for the residence.

Here's what happened: In cases where the voters moved, the
vendor used a change of address database to forward the mailing. The problem
is, in many cases, a move means a change of precinct.

"I don't know how we were supposed to know this was going to happen," said Richard Barron, Fulton County's Director of Elections and Registration. "They didn't realize the impact of that decision upon our mailings."

He said the decision had been made by Dove Direct to keep the
county from getting mail returned.

In the spring, between 30,000 and 40,000 precinct cards were
returned to the county. On top of that, hundreds more were delivered to
voters after the presidential preference primary and about 850 precinct cards
were delivered to polling locations instead of residents.

Dove Direct will cover the cost of re-sending the letters to the addresses that didn't receive them, Barron said. But they will not go out
until Tuesday, once the company has reordered envelopes.

There are no plans to send corrected information to residents
who received the letters with improper voting information. Some of them now live
in counties other than Fulton. Barron said he hopes they know enough to check
where they should vote.

"We're only going to worry about the homes in Fulton County that didn't receive the mailing," he said.