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Authorities in Cobb County, Georgia, provided an update on a city council race after it was flipped following the discovery of an overlooked memory card with uncounted ballots.
Days before that, officials certified her opponent, Madelyn Orochena, the winner. However, it was discovered that employees did not upload a memory card from a precinct that had nearly 800 ballots, which ultimately gave Burnette the lead.
“The recertification was necessary after workers discovered a memory card had not been included in the previous results. The additional ballots resulted in a change in the Kennesaw City Council Post 1 Special Election,” a Cobb County news release said.
A recount of the race was conducted starting Nov. 20, a release said.
“I have been tracking city elections since 1972. Fifty years. I have never, never seen anything like this,” Councilman Pat Ferris told the Cobb County Courier about the final result.
Another official, Cobb County Director of Elections Janine Eveler, told the paper that the memory card never went missing and was returned on the night of Nov. 8. An employee did not follow rules, she said.
“We have a checklist in the receiving group that opens the pouch, checks the seal, opens the pouch 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 location,” Eveler remarked. “The receiver in this case checked the checklist: there were two memory cards.”
She added: “They marked two on their checklist and handed it to the person that was uploading it to the tabulation machine … she didn’t check her checklist that said there [were] two and reached into the bag, pulled one memory card out, and uploaded it, put that card back into the pouch, and handed it off to another worker.”
Last week, Orochena wrote in a Facebook post she would file a complaint with the Georgia’s Secretary of State office over the incident. Before that, she announced her win but later wrote that she learned of the memory card issue that flipped her race.
“I planned to celebrate with family and friends and supporters afterwards,” she told WSB-TV. “We had no reason to expect otherwise.” Adding to the outlet, Orochena said she’s now “just doing all that I can do that’s within my rights to regain some confidence that this was a fair election.”
Cobb election officials said the memory card was located in Kennesaw when workers were preparing for an election audit, according to local news outlets. Details weren’t provided about why the card was overlooked or where it was located.