Sandy Springs City Council wants to know why an analyst found nearly 5,000 inconsistencies in voter data provided by the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections.
The Department of Registration and Elections says information the city used for its analysis is based on older city maps that do not reflect recent redistricting. The list is being updated, a Department official told the city. The Department told the city via email at the end of city council’s Sept. 3 meeting that the updated list will address the 4,916 “discrepancies” on a list of 67,831 registered voters.
That response did not answer all of city council’s questions, however. The next city council election is Nov. 5 and the county would be responsible for making any changes.
Councilman Tibby DeJulio, who represents District 5, said he is concerned about the more than 1,000 discrepancies found in his district. DeJulio is running for reelection and has an opponent, Clayton Cole. DeJulio has been on the council since the city first incorporated in 2005. He said the problems with the voter list are not new.
“I remember in our very first election that young man who ran against (Councilwoman Karen Meinzen-McEnerny) and said he couldn’t vote for himself,” DeJulio said. “This problem has been going on for eight years.”
Those discrepancies include conflicting address information and voters being placed in the wrong district. It’s not a trivial number in a local election, where turnout is typically lower and elections can turn on a handful of votes.
Joshua Lontz, GIS analyst for the city, said 702 addresses listed on the registered voter rolls weren’t found when he went looking for them. He also found 115 “miscellaneous” issues, like addresses that weren’t in the city’s jurisdiction. The rest primarily involved voters listed in the wrong council district.
City Council didn’t wholly accept the Department of Registration and Elections’ explanation of the discrepancies. Councilwoman Dianne Fries said city staff found discrepancies in council districts 1, 2 and 4. Those districts weren’t changed when the city redrew its maps, she said.
“There were a bunch of these complaints at the last election,” Councilman John Paulson said. Paulson, who represents District 1, is the only council member running unopposed this year.
Fulton County provided the voter list and City Spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said the city conducted the analysis.
“It’s our responsibility we want to make sure that everybody gets a vote,” Kraun said.
In other business, the council updated its economic incentives policy to clear up confusion among companies seeking tax breaks from the city.
Economic Development Director Andrea Hall said under the new policy, businesses must apply for incentives before the city issues a building permit. The second change places stricter rules on businesses that are renting space instead of buying it. The amount companies invest in space for operations become part of the formula the city uses to determine whether to grant incentives.
Under the new rules, companies using rental improvements as part of the formula must commit to staying in the facility for a certain number of years, depending on the value of the incentives. The facility can be rented or purchased.
City Council then approved incentives for the chemical company Axiall Corporation. Hall said the company’s is consistent with the changes to the incentives policy.
The company received $156,070 in tax breaks the include waivers of permit fees and occupational taxes. The company will bring 150 jobs to the city.