MARIETTA — Results of the race for the seat of former state Rep. Bert Reeves have been certified after a unanimous vote by the Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration.
The board met Monday and certified the election results of the June 15 special election for Georgia House District 34, with Elections Director Janine Eveler reporting a smooth, albeit lightly attended election.
Republican Devan Seabaugh and Democrat Priscilla Smith will face each other in a runoff election July 13 after finishing as the top two vote-getters in the special election.
Eveler told the board that out of the eligible 42,089 Cobb voters in the district, 7,092 cast ballots. That equates to a turnout of 16.85%, a percentage she said was “not great” but wasn’t bad either compared to the last special election held in Cobb, in 2011. Only 7.5% of registered, eligible voters went to the polls in that race, she said.
Eveler reported that the District 34 election saw 3,961 voters cast ballots at the polls on Election Day, 2,924 vote early in-person and 205 by mail. Of the six provisional ballots that had to be used, two were found to be valid and counted.
An audit of the results, Eveler said, found no discrepancies that would raise any red flags and result in concerns over certification.
Seabaugh and Smith were two of five candidates vying to replace Reeves in the district that includes Kennesaw and part of Marietta.
The race was a “jungle primary,” meaning all candidates ran on one ballot, regardless of party. To win outright, a candidate had to receive the majority of votes (50% plus one).
Seabaugh finished at the top of the pack, with 3,337 votes, or 47.1%. Smith came in second with 1,740 votes, or 24.6%.
Public comment at the board meeting saw several speakers allege there was fraud in the 2020 elections and raise concern over elections that have taken place since. One of those speakers was Salleigh Grubbs, chair of the Cobb GOP.
Others said they’d been involved in the election process in 2020, either by watching ballots being counted at Jim R. Miller Park or as a poll watcher.
Local Republican activist Jan Barton said she’d been the latter.
“I’m here today to tell you that we’ve lost faith in our election process,” she said, adding that she’d also helped with the county’s recount.
Barton and others raised concerns about being kept at a distance they felt was not appropriate to view what was happening during ballot counting; the security of election machines; the shredding of ballot envelopes and other department waste; and more.
Eveler has repeatedly debunked the claim that shredded documents were ballots and said other reports of fraud or election integrity concerns were without merit.
Eveler said she’d heard many of the claims before and told the MDJ that there had not been a single case or claim of fraud brought to her attention that had been corroborated.
Also at public comment, Jacquelyn Bettadapur, chair of the Cobb Democratic Committee, said the elections department should expand early voting ahead of the July 13 runoff elections to add another week, as well as weekend voting. Early voting is slated for July 6 to 9 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but Eveler said the department may be able to add more voting days during the week of June 28, if equipment testing can be completed in time.
“We are trying to add as many days as possible, but we have to see if we can complete dependent tasks before we can commit,” she said.
And one speaker, Lindsey Sieber, asked that the board consider incorporating a virtual option as a standard viewing option and moving its meeting time to 4 p.m. or 5 p.m., rather than its usual 3 p.m. Sieber said she felt that would make the meetings more accessible during the work day.
In other business, the board swore in three new members, to replace those outgoing, rescheduled its next regular meeting and approved a change of voting precinct in Powder Springs.
New election board members will officially replace those outgoing — election board Chair Phil Daniell, Vice Chair Fred Aiken and Darryl Wilson — on July 1.
Steve Bruning and Tori Silas were appointed by the Cobb Legislative Delegation, while Jennifer Mosbacher was appointed by Cobb Chairwoman Lisa Cupid. That means the board now has four members appointed by a Democrat or Democrat-controlled body and one appointed by a Republican body. Previously the balance had been Republican-majority.
The board’s approved move of a Powder Springs voting precinct, Clarkdale 02, shifts the poll from Faith Baptist Temple, at 5083 Hiram Lithia Springs Road, to Spirit of Life Church, at 4889 Hill Road, a distance of about 2 miles. The precinct has about 5,400 voters, according to Eveler.
The board’s next regular meeting has been moved from July 12 to July 19 at 3 p.m.