MILTON, Ga. — Kevin Muldowney is one of five residents who said at the Oct. 18 City Council meeting they want the council to revisit a proposal to have Milton run its own elections starting in 2022.
After hearing their concerns, Councilman Rick Mohrig requested that the matter be added to the Nov. 8 council work session agenda.
“Kind of to formalize what we’ve been talking about so we can actually move forward or back away from it,” Mohrig said.
The motion passed unanimously.
In August, a group of residents told the City Council they did not support the city entering into a contract with Fulton County to conduct its municipal elections, citing questions of integrity in the 2020 General Election and added costs in this year’s agreement.
Under the agreement, it will cost the city $84,000 to conduct the General Election. If a runoff is required, it will cost the city an additional $70,000, bringing the total to $154,000. The county is no longer reimbursing cities for ballots that are not cast by eligible voters.
Runoff elections in Milton typically draw less than 10% voter turnout.
A recent feasibility study has determined that it would cost Milton about $120,000 to oversee its own elections using paper ballots and seven ballot boxes. City Manager Steve Krokoff told the council it would take five years to break even, according to the study.
The council moved forward with the agreement with Fulton County, mainly because of the limited time and resources they had to prepare for the election on Nov. 2, but Muldowney said they should continue to pursue the matter to ensure “Milton’s voters are heard.”
Other residents agreed.
“As a citizen of Milton, I believe we should fire Fulton County from running our municipal elections,” Nia Corsten said. “The direct outcome would be better local elections with trusted results. Furthermore, they will be run much more efficiently and transparently. … This isn’t a political issue nor is it a Democrat or Republican issue. This is simply being good stewards of our taxpayer dollars.”
Corsten referenced an internal audit that was released in August, showing 10 administrative and fiscal mismanagement issues by Fulton County’s elections board during the 2020 election cycle.
They include a lack of standard operating procedures in the department, inconsistent procurement procedures, untimely payment of invoices, improper payment of services, inadequate safeguarding of assets and inadequate departmental accountability and oversight of financial transactions. The audit also noted one concern over the misclassification of expenditures.
Additionally, Linda Garland referenced the recent firing of two Fulton County election workers for allegedly shredding 300 paper voter registration applications shortly before the start of early voting on Oct. 12. The case has since been referred to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
“Some of those 300 votes could have easily included Milton city citizen votes,” Garland said.
Robert Pedro said he would like to see Milton implement paper balloting if it ever does manage its own elections.
“Although the county tries to convince us this would cost us more, we all know that Fulton County has no real concern or care for what things cost,” Pedro said. “Since they have not trued up the cost of past local elections, I’m sure that Milton can do it both more efficiently and more cost-effectively while also restoring integrity and confidence to the process.”
None of the residents who spoke during the meeting presented a plan.
Despite the internal audit and firing of election workers, Superior Court Judge Brian Amero dismissed a lawsuit against members of the Fulton County Election Board Oct. 13 which alleged there were fraudulent mail-in ballots cast in the 2020 presidential election.
Amero said the lawsuit lacked standing. It was the last remaining major lawsuit over the state’s 2020 election. The day before the ruling, Georgia investigators also told the court they were unable to find any evidence of fraudulent ballots.